Realistic 2014 Free-Agency Targets for the LA Lakers

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Realistic 2014 Free-Agency Targets for the LA Lakers
Associated Press
Are the stars aligning to bring Pau Gasol back in the Purple and Gold fold?

Now that the Los Angeles Lakers and Mike D'Antoni have parted ways, the process for targeting free agents this summer gets a bit tricky.

The Lakers will probably wait until after the May 20 draft lottery to name a new coach, and that will, in effect, impact some of the free-agency pursuits they consider.

For a team that finished a franchise-worst 27-55, the Lakers' needs are many.  Only Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre are on the roster, so the team must fill upward of 13 spots this summer.  Point guard Kendall Marshall has a team option and will likely be back (at $915,000) to fill one of those spots.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that the Lakers forgo pursuing any high-priced big names this summer and make a splash in 2015 when such stars as Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo, Roy Hibbert, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan and Tony Parker are available.

Still, there's every reason to believe the team will certainly listen if Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James shows any interest in coming west to Los Angeles.  And then there's Luol Deng, the 29-year-old power forward from Great Britain and the Cleveland Cavaliers who will test free agency this summer and has been rumored as a target of the Lakers, per USA Today's Sam Amick (h/t Lakers Nation's Ryan Ward).

Deng is sure to command a multiyear contract with someone, probably in the neighborhood of $12-14 million per.  That would seem too rich for the salary-cap-conscious Lakers.

Among the many possible scenarios, the Lakers may already be talking to the Minnesota Timberwolves about a deal that would send their No. 1 draft pick and other assets packing in exchange for Love. 

That, in turn, would further alter management's mindset when it looks at the free-agent market.

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