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Still Available Players Los Angeles Lakers Must Target

Bryant KnoxFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2014

Still Available Players Los Angeles Lakers Must Target

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    Ryan Kelly and Ed Davis are two big men the Los Angeles Lakers shouldn't look past during NBA free agency.
    Ryan Kelly and Ed Davis are two big men the Los Angeles Lakers shouldn't look past during NBA free agency.Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    When Carmelo Anthony announced he was going to re-sign with the New York Knicks in free agency, it was clear to the Los Angeles Lakers that 2014 would not be the offseason in which we see a drastic turnaround.

    “We always felt like it was a longshot,” Mitch Kupchak said of a potential Anthony signing, via Bill Oram from the Orange County Register“We gave it our best shot and we’re happy to accomplish what we did and we still have more work to do.”

    With 2015 looking like a prime opportunity to target a franchise player, the "work" Kupchak is referencing will come in the form of finding Plan B's and C's this summer. There are a few big names left on the market, but fans in L.A. should expect modest signings as part of a much grander plan next offseason. 

Honorable Mentions

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    Danny Bollinger/Getty Images

    This list is comprised of players who did not play for the Los Angeles Lakers last season and can likely be had for near-minimum, if not minimum contracts. The Lakers can, and should, aspire for the best talent they can get their hands on, but sometimes a bargain deal is simply the best option.

     

    Brandon Rush

    The Lakers need help on the outside, and Brandon Rush can give it to them. The perimeter player was a solid 3-and-D guy just a few seasons ago, but since tearing his ACL, he hasn't been the same.

    Hence why he can be had for cheap, and hence why L.A. would consider him a backup to other names on this big board.

     

    DeJuan Blair

    DeJuan Blair isn't going to help the Lakers protect the rim, but he's an aggressive rebounder. He hasn't succeeded in the NBA as he'd hoped, meaning a cheap contract and a backup gig with L.A. might be right up his alley.

    According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Washington Wizards are in discussions with the Dallas Mavericks to acquire the big man, meaning the Lakers would have to move quickly to make this a possibility.

     

    Jerryd Bayless

    A short-term agreement would behoove both the Lakers and Jerryd Bayless. The combo guard didn't play up to his talent level in 2013-14, and giving him one or two years while maintaining flexibility would also allow him to show the league he has more to offer.

    Los Angeles doesn't need another point guard, but Bayless can be a threat to score at the 2 when his shot is on.

Ed Davis

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    Joe Murphy/Getty Images

    Despite having only six players currently on the roster, the Los Angeles Lakers are strapped for cash. As B/R's Adam Fromal explains: 

    That pushes the Lakers total—without cap holds from non-renounced players, mind you—to a minimum of $60,786,268. With the salary cap set at $63.065 million, according to an official release from NBA.com, the Lakers are basically out of financial flexibility. 

    With all that in mind, we're looking at short-term deals and shrewd signings as L.A.'s go-to options. For that reason, we start with Ed Davis.

    With Davis, a deal would likely have to fall into both of the aforementioned categories: short-term and shrewd. Despite his apparent upside, he's yet to prove he's worthy of a long-term contract, but to get him on a cheap deal would be an acquisition that's beneficial both now and potentially into the future.

    If the Lakers can sell Davis on the allure of L.A., as well as the outlook on success beyond 2015, this could be a sneaky signing that has potential to pay dividends. Both parties would have to understand there's risk involved, but as they say: No risk, no reward.

Ryan Kelly

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    D. Clarke Evans/Getty Images

    Despite showing signs of promise in 2013-14, Ryan Kelly won't have fans jumping for joy if he re-signs with the Los Angeles Lakers. He doesn't project as a star in any circles, but he's a legitimate possibility to return to the organization, as recently explained by B/R's Kevin Ding.

    As Ding states, "[Mitch] Kupchak said the next roster decisions will include retaining some holdovers from last season's Lakers—one could guess that Ryan Kelly is the safest bet—and some from the outside." 

    In 59 games this past season, the rookie averaged eight points and 3.7 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per contest. He even started 25 of those outings, although that's more a testament to the state of the Lakers than his outlook as a permanent starter.

    If Kelly does indeed return, it will likely be on a small-time salary, but it will also be good for cohesion. This roster has the potential for a brand new look from last year, and any sense of familiarity can only be a good thing.

Xavier Henry

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Speaking of former Los Angeles Lakers, Xavier Henry comes to mind when thinking about potential free-agent signings. 

    According to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, Henry wants to return to the Lakers. Pincus notes, however, the team doesn't have much more than the minimum to offer.

    If L.A. can convince Henry to come back to the team for that kind of money, you'd have to consider it a win. He wasn't always the most consistent player in the rotation last season—and injuries kept him out altogether for much of the year—but he's the kind of player who can be a threat to score on almost any given night.

    If the interest in mutual, a discounted deal makes sense. Los Angeles needs to temper its expectations moving forward, and bringing back another member of last year's squad would help transition into the new season.

Lance Stephenson

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Consider Lance Stephenson something of an unlikely honorable mention but one we'd be remiss to skip over altogether.

    Following this most recent postseason, Stephenson's antics have caused some to wonder about his maturity. What you can't deny, however, is that he's a gritty defender with All-Star potential.

    In order to sign Stephenson, the Los Angeles Lakers would have to do two things: Exercise the stretch provision on Steve Nash (waiving him and spreading out his contract over the next three seasons) and get Stephenson to take a deal lower than he's likely looking for.

    The problem here is that not only would Stephenson's contract limit flexibility over the next two offseasons, but so would Nash's. With Nash's contract being stretched over the next three years, that's money being used that would otherwise go toward big-name free agents.

    The Lakers have shown interest in Stephenson, but according to Sean Deveney of SportingNews.com, they "have not been serious in their pursuit." Expect this to be the case moving forward, but L.A. would be smart to at least put out the feelers.

Evan Turner

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    USA TODAY Sports

    On July 14, Joe Kaiser of ESPN.com (Insider) reported two teams have interest in Evan Turner: the Boston Celtics and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Neither or those teams is the Los Angeles Lakers, but this isn't a preview of whom L.A. is targeting, it's a preview of whom the team should be targeting.

    Following a strange year for Turner, the 6'7" swingman is on the market. His year with the Philadelphia 76ers made him look as if he had a big payday coming his way, but his stint with the Indiana Pacers did the exact opposite.

    With Turner's struggles (and complete disappearance) fresh in our minds, it's assumed the 25-year-old can be had for cheap. Whether that's cheap enough for the Lakers to make him a shrewd signing is a question that's yet to be answered, but Los Angeles would be wise to contact the former No. 2 pick, as it has a glaring hole at backup small forward.

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