The Los Angeles Lakers finished the 2013-14 season with an abysmal record of 27-55, and there are rumors that the franchise will do whatever it takes to bounce back and make the postseason once again.
With Los Angeles reportedly interested in free agents like Michael Beasley, Shawn Marion and Jermaine O’Neal, this season’s starting lineup could feature even more fresh faces looking to help bring the storied franchise back to prominence.
Here are the latest rumors surrounding the Lakers this offseason.
Los Angeles Kicking Tires on Michael Beasley?
One of the players in whom the Lakers have expressed the most interest has been former Miami Heat small forward Michael Beasley. Los Angeles already has Nick Young and Wesley Johnson at the position, but Beasley can add the depth and versatility the team needs.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Los Angeles has already worked out the player and liked what it saw:
The Los Angeles Lakers are considering signing free-agent forward Michael Beasley and brought in the six-year veteran for a workout at their El Segundo, California, practice facility Wednesday, according to multiple sources.
"[Beasley] looked very good and he has been working out," one source said. "A tiny rust from layoff, but [he] did a good job."
What would make Beasley a smart addition to the team is his ability to play either of the forward positions. The Lakers already have Carlos Boozer, Julius Randle and Ed Davis at the power forward position, but Beasley could be the safety blanket when Boozer falters in the defensive zone or if Randle struggles to acclimate to the NBA.
Miami used Beasley sparingly in its system last season, but he has shown in the past that he can make an impact on a team. During the 2010-11 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the former No. 2 overall pick averaged 19.2 points and 5.6 assists in 73 starts.
Beasley has embraced his role as a bench player over the last three seasons and would do the same with Los Angeles. With plenty of chances to shine with player like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash on the team, the 25-year-old will have ample opportunities to earn more playing time.
Shawn Marion an Option for Lakers?
If a potential deal with Beasley doesn’t pan out, another possible free-agent target for the Lakers would be former Dallas Mavericks small forward Shawn Marion.
Like Beasley, Marion would offer Los Angeles the versatility to play either forward position, but the 15-year veteran has the experience advantage in both the regular season and the postseason.
In a report from Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Lakers are still a viable option for the 36-year-old:
For Marion, signing with Los Angeles could be the perfect fit. After starting 76 games for Dallas last season, he would be asked to fill the role of bench player behind Young and Johnson on the depth chart. With less pressure to perform every night, Marion could emerge as a potential Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
During the 2013-14 season, Marion added 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Those numbers were down from his career averages due to the wear and tear of the season, but that was to be expected from a veteran being asked to carry much of the team’s weight.
With Los Angeles, Marion’s minutes will be limited. While that wouldn’t be acceptable for many players, a veteran like Marion understands he will be fresher when he hits the court and could once again excel.
Jermaine O’Neal a Possible Free-Agent Target?
One of the positions with which the Lakers need the most help is center. Los Angeles currently boasts Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre at the position, but the franchise could use more depth before the regular season begins.
The Lakers have reportedly expressed interest in free agent Jermaine O’Neal.
According to Jabari Davis of the BasketballInsiders.com, O’Neal and Los Angeles had mutual interest in the past, and he could once again be an option for the team:
If anything, I think the Lakers could use another legitimate rim-protector. Not sure Blatche fits that mold, so I don’t necessarily think he would be a guy they’d bring in. I know there has been mutual interest between the Lakers and O’Neal in the past. In fact, I think JO may have worked out for them prior to 2012-13 if memory serves me.
At 35 years old and with 18 years of NBA experience, O’Neal would not be expected to start for the team and eat major minutes, but he could be a viable contributor off the bench. The Lakers need depth in the low post, and O’Neal understands what it takes to defend against the best players in the NBA.
O’Neal spent last season with the Golden State Warriors and averaged 7.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in just over 20 minutes per game. Los Angeles needs a player who can play sporadically without being a liability, and O’Neal is the best option for the team remaining on the market.
*Stats via NBA.com.