In a strange turn of events most are not accustomed to seeing, the Los Angeles Lakers have been on the sidelines during the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2004-05 and are instead pursuing multiple avenues to improve for next season.
This includes both changes on the court and off, with the head-turning fact that the Lakers actually have a lottery pick being the highlight of the offseason. L.A. has made two lottery selections in franchise history—Andrew Bynum (No. 10, 2005) and Eddie Jones (No. 10, 1994).
Of course, this means there are myriad rumors surrounding one of the most popular teams in the world as it begins the infancy stages of a rebuild. Let's take a look at the most notable nuggets of info making the rounds.
Lakers out of Carmelo Sweepstakes?
Not a soul in New York knows what the future holds for one Carmelo Anthony.
Well, maybe the front office in Los Angeles knows a thing or two—it doesn't want him.
According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, the Lakers have some strange reasons for not wanting to bring on one of the league's most prolific superstars:
Reports that Jeanie and the Lakers would bow out of Carmelo Anthony pursuit so as not to impact Phil would be a violation.— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) May 27, 2014
Marc Berman of the New York Post has further details: "Meanwhile, the Lakers have cap space, but sources maintain they aren't too interested in Anthony as a fit with Kobe Bryant. Nor is Lakers president Jeanie Buss enthralled with stealing Anthony from Jackson, her fiance."
This all makes too much sense. Anthony is already 30 years old. His fit on another historic franchise that chose to throw cash at him, rather than adequately rebuild, was a nightmare. As a shoot-first kind of player, there is no chance he meshes well with Bryant.
Furthermore, the Lakers would surely rather pursue a Kevin Love or Kevin Durant (whose contract runs out after 2015-16) in the coming offseasons rather than blow cash now. Armed with a lottery pick who will need time to develop, expect 2014 to be the year of the young players for the Lakers, sans Bryant.
Prized Prospect Will Only Play for Lakers?
Speaking of that lottery pick, could it turn out to be coveted international star Dario Saric?
The Croatian will certainly be in the discussion on draft day, although many consider him a risk based on the fact he may not come over and play in the NBA.
Those fears were realized recently, outside of Los Angeles and Boston, at least. David Pick of Eurobasket has the scoop:
Dario Saric, I'm told, has let it be known he plans to go to NBA next season if drafted by Celtics or Lakers.— David Pick (@IAmDPick) May 29, 2014
A prototypical stretch 4 who can hit shots from long range, Saric is a surefire contributor who comes equipped with great court vision to facilitate offense for those around him.
His skill set is one the Lakers can use, although plenty of other prospects such as Dante Exum and Julius Randle may be in play at No. 7. But the Lakers can at least rest easy about Saric's stock if they are truly high on him.
Nick Young Update
A year after acting as the spark plug for a franchise that won just 27 games, Nick Young is set to cash in on the market when he opts out of his contract. His standout play and average of 17.9 points per game ensures he will demand a hefty price.
That said, Young apparently hopes it will be with the Lakers, according to Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders:
A source very close to Young recently told Basketball Insiders the Los Angeles native would prefer to wear a Lakers uniform next season despite the uncertainty of the team’s roster and the vacant head coach position.
However, the source fully believes Young will elect to opt out of his deal this summer in order to fully evaluate his options on the free agent circuit in July.
Of course Young wants to do what is financially best for his family. If the Lakers are serious about building a solid, somewhat young nucleus before making a charge at major free agents in the coming offseasons after this year, Young should be brought back—if the asking price is not too ridiculous.
The market can and will drive Young's price up, but the Lakers must heavily consider bringing back a player who was both productive during a putrid stretch and wants to be around for a rebuild.