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The Lakers will have a number of free agents this summer and choices have to be made. And while the final stretch run will serve to cement management’s evaluation process, it’s not too early to predict who goes and who stays.
First, let’s just go ahead and say goodbye to Bryant—the free agent won’t be signing with another team, nor is there any chance of him returning to the Lakers. His retirement letter on The Players’ Tribunal made that perfectly clear.
Big Roy Hibbert has put up career-worst numbers since arriving in Lakerland last summer via a trade with the Indiana Pacers. His positive locker room presence has been appreciated, but the former All-Star won’t be invited back.
Like fellow vets Bryant and Hibbert, Metta World Peace will also be an unrestricted free agent. While his mentoring of fellow players such as Randle has been a plus, it’s hard to imagine management handing the 36-year-old another player contract.
It’s also unlikely that Ryan Kelly will earn another look. After three years, it has become evident that the former Duke champ has not become the kind of effective floor-stretcher the Lakers had hoped for.
And finally, say goodbye to Marcelo Huertas—the league’s oldest rookie and a restricted free agent. The Brazilian point guard’s pure passing skills failed to buy him more than token minutes in Los Angeles.
Clarkson has arguably been the Lakers’ best player on a nightly basis this season. The athletic combo guard will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but there’s no chance management will let him slip away.
As Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times wrote in December, there are a number of scenarios in which the Lakers could bring Clarkson back. Those include using early-bird rights, cap room or matching another team’s offer sheet. Regardless of how it happens, L.A. has to lock the sophomore up.
Black’s role has been very inconsistent this season under Scott. But the undrafted big plays with energy and dedication on both ends of the floor—the Lakers would do well to re-sign him to a modest deal.
And as much as fans will moan and groan, Robert Sacre has a decent chance of returning next fall. While he’s not particularly good at any one aspect of basketball, the 7-foot backup center is a highly affordable insurance chip for a team without much frontcourt size.