Lakers Rumors: Breaking Down Latest Free-Agent Buzz out of Los Angeles

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2014

Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer (5) stands on the court during a break in the action during the first half of Game 4 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Washington Wizards in Washington, Sunday, April 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers might not have brought in Carmelo Anthony or other superstars this offseason, but the front office has remained busy.

First, the team was able to retain the services of both Nick Young and Jordan Hill on multiyear deals. The organization then announced a trade to acquire Jeremy Lin, a first-round pick and a second-round pick for the rights to Sergei Lishchuk.

Although many of the top targets have since decided to sign with other teams this offseason, there are still a number of moves that the Lakers can make to improve heading into next season. Here is a look at the latest decisions the front office must make over the next few weeks.


Carlos Boozer Headed to Los Angeles?

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: Carlos Boozer #5 of the Chicago Bulls grabs a rebound against the Washington Wizards in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Verizon Center on April 27, 2014 in Washington, DC. NO
Ned Dishman/Getty Images

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Chicago Bulls decided to let Carlos Boozer go by using the amnesty clause, giving the organization enough cap space to sign Pau Gasol.

Considering the Bulls brought in the former Lakers forward, it would almost be poetic if Los Angeles did the same thing.

Marc Stein of ESPN notes that not many teams have the money to sign Boozer:

As a result, Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Daily News believes the Lakers will at least put in a bid for the veteran player:

Although Boozer has seen his production drop in recent years, he is still a force in the low post. This past season, the power forward averaged 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Considering the Lakers finished 25th in the NBA in rebounding last year, they could use the upgrade on the boards.

Additionally, the 12-year veteran has a chance to be a leader for a young roster in Los Angeles. Although first-round pick Julius Randle is expecting to make a big impact in his rookie season, he could use some lessons from a player who has been successful in this league for over a decade.

As long as the price is right, this appears to be a quality move to bring talent to a roster that does not have much at the moment.


Ryan Kelly Likely to Return

Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

After re-signing Young and Hill, the Lakers will continue to make sure that their top players from this past season are not going anywhere.

Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding spoke with general manager Mitch Kupchak about his next moves:

Kupchak expects to sign most of the rest of his roster next week. He is at least thankful that LeBron James and Anthony didn't drag it out even longer because "there's only so much that's left on the board" in free agency.

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.

The problem is that Kelly will not necessarily be easy to keep. The organization made him a restricted free agent this offseason thanks to a $1 million qualifying offer, which has allowed other teams to make moves.

Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune previously reported that the Utah Jazz were one team interested in acquiring the forward:

In his only season in the league, Kelly showed plenty of ability while averaging eight points per game. He made 33.8 percent of his three-point attempts, but he is capable of much more. At 6'11", this makes him a matchup nightmare that spreads the floor for the rest of the team.

It is important for Los Angeles not to go overboard on a new deal, but the former Duke star clearly has a lot of value for the team going forward.


Wesley Johnson on His Way Out

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 30: Wesley Johnson #11 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against Marcus Morris #15 of the Phoenix Suns at STAPLES Center on March 30, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees th
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

With limited funds, it is important for the organization to pick and choose who it wants to keep and who should be free to let go. Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News provides insight into this process:

Medina added details on the decision:

It seems likely the Lakers will secure Kelly and Henry on relatively inexpensive one-year deals. 

It appears unlikely the Lakers will re-sign Johnson, whose 9.1-points-per-game average on 42.6-percent shooting featured inconsistent offensive and defensive performances.

Johnson was the No. 4 pick in the 2010 draft, but he was never able to reach the potential everyone thought he had. In four seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns and Lakers, the wing has averaged 8.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

While he is a solid outside shooter, he cannot be counted on to make plays in important situations. The fact that he started 62 games this past season is more of an indictment on how bad Los Angeles was rather than anything good for Johnson.

Unless the forward is unable to find any good deals on the open market and can return to the Lakers on a cheap one-year deal, his time with the franchise should be finished.


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