The Los Angeles Lakers made improvements on draft night by selecting forward Julius Randle, but that certainly won't be the end of the process if L.A. has its way.
After a frustrating 2013-14 campaign, the Lakers are potentially in position to turn things around quickly. Not only is superstar guard Kobe Bryant set to return from injury, but Los Angeles is also targeting some big names in free agency, and the coaching ranks as well.
Although there is no guarantee that the Lakers will be able to convince any of them to come out West, there is definitely a certain amount of allure attached to playing for a franchise that has been as successful as the Lakers have been in the past.
With that in mind, here is a look at the latest rumors regarding the Lakers plans, both in terms of free agency and on the coaching front.
It is no secret that LeBron James is the most coveted free agent on the market, and there is no question that the Lakers would love to get their hands on him just like every other team.
The combination of LeBron and Kobe could potentially be deadly, but the Lakers' ambition doesn't stop there. According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers are hoping to get in on the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes as well:
Kupchak said Lakers would go "all out" if they got calls to meet with LeBron, Carmelo next week in free agency. Nothing scheduled yet, tho.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) June 27, 2014
There is definitely potential for the Lakers to put together a championship contender this season, but it comes down to whether or not the interest is mutual between the organization and its top targets this summer. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times is reporting that James' wife, Savannah, would like for LeBron to play in L.A. if he decides against returning to the Miami Heat.
The only problem, though, is that she reportedly favors James playing for the Los Angeles Clippers rather than the Lakers.
If that rumor is true and LeBron is ultimately uninterested in playing for the Lakers, then Los Angeles will have to go back to the drawing board. Per ESPN's Chris Broussard, the Lakers' Plan B involves one of LeBron's Heat teammates:
Lakers' dream is to add LeBron & Melo this summer. If that fails would go for CBosh & Melo, sources say. That's assuming Bosh opts out— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 27, 2014
James and his camp have been mum regarding their free-agency plans thus far, but one can only assume that the Lakers will be taken under consideration. James and Bryant have an existing relationship from the time they spent together as part of Team USA in each of the past two Summer Olympics, so perhaps Kobe can convince LeBron to come to L.A.
The Heat still have to be considered the favorite, though, especially after landing UConn guard Shabazz Napier in the draft. Landing LeBron is the ideal scenario for the Lakers, but they have plenty of other options available if that ultimately doesn't happen.
On the heels of a career year with the Toronto Raptors, point guard Kyle Lowry will most definitely be a hot commodity in free agency. He should essentially have the pick of the litter in terms of signing pretty much anywhere he desires, and the Lakers are hopeful that they are high on his list.
According to NBA.com's David Aldridge, the Lakers are quite interested in landing Lowry and pairing him with Kobe in the backcourt.
Per Sam Amick of USA Today, the interest may be mutual, as the Lakers are thought to be very much in the mix from Lowry's perspective.
Which Lakers rumor is most intriguing?
Signing Lowry would likely mean that the Lakers missed out on one or both of LeBron and Carmelo, but Lowry wouldn't be a bad consolation prize. Los Angeles has long been in search of a point guard who can co-exist and thrive with Bryant, but it hasn't had much success in that regard.
Steve Nash has been unable to stay healthy, so it is easy to see why Lowry is a target. He averaged better than 17 points and seven assists per game last season, which would immediately make him the Lakers' No. 2 offensive option.
Although Lowry hasn't divulged anything in terms of which teams interest him most, he has made it clear that winning is a top priority, per Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders:
I think the right situation is somewhere I'm winning and being happy, and honestly I want to play for a championship. I'm happy with making the playoffs and doing that, but the end game for all players should be a championship and that's what I want to play for. I want to play for a championship.
The Lakers didn't do much winning last year and were nowhere near being title contenders, but that could change with Lowry, a healthy Kobe and other potential pieces like LeBron, Carmelo or Chris Bosh. It will be up to Lakers management to convince Lowry that the Lakers can win now in the difficult Western Conference.
That may not be an easy thing to do, but the influence of Kobe may be enough to make Lowry give the Lakers a long, hard look.
While the Lakers obviously need to make improvements on the court in order to excel during the 2014-15 season, there is plenty left to be settled on the sidelines as well. Los Angeles has yet to settle on its next head coach, but ESPN's Ramona Shelburne is reporting that Byron Scott has emerged as the lead candidate:
Lakers aren't likely to hire before July 1, but Byron Scott has interviewed 3 times & is considered the front runner http://t.co/27nF57VhlT— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 23, 2014
Scott spent 11 years with the Lakers as a player and helped the organization win three NBA championships. There is a definite connection and comfort level between the two, and it is likely that the fans would embrace Scott as the next head coach of the Lakers.
Although Scott's last two head-coaching stops in New Orleans and Cleveland didn't breed much success, he did lead the New Jerseys Nets to the NBA Finals twice. He is also a well-respected person in basketball circles, so it is likely that the players would feel comfortable with him at the helm.
The main point of interest regarding the Lakers' coaching search may be when they decide to make an official hire. It is possible that the delay has something to do with the Lakers waiting until they can gauge the interest of LeBron, Carmelo and other top-flight free agents.
Star players often have a lot of say when it comes to the head coach, so the Lakers may want to feel out how James and Anthony might receive someone like Scott. Based on the options that are currently available, though, Scott is probably the best option for L.A. With that in mind, it is probably only a matter of time before the Lakers eventually hire him.
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