With the final game of the 2010 NBA Finals having come to an end, the Lakers organization has been preparing to make several offseason changes in addition to planning the upcoming championship parade on Monday, June 21, 2010.
First, the Lakers are making it their high priority to re-sign head coach Phil Jackson to coach the Lakers for the 2010-2011 NBA season. Sources indicate that Phil Jackson, after having won his 11th career championship as a head coach, would like to return next year and attempt to coach a team to an unprecedented fourth three-peat.
Contrary to media reports, Phil Jackson's health, not money, will be the main factor determining whether or not he will return next year. The Lakers organization has already engaged in informal contract negotiations with Coach Jackson, and both sides seem willing to compromise on an appropriate salary.
Second, the Lakers organization have also expressed a strong interest in retaining the services of unrestricted free agent point guard Derek Fisher. Derek Fisher is credited for making some timely three-pointers in this past season's playoff run, including the fourth quarter shot in Game Seven of the NBA Finals which tied the game at 64-64. The Celtics would never gain the lead again.
Fisher's veteran presence and locker room leadership are seen as a key component of maintaining the Lakers' success heading into next season. The Lakers are exploring either signing Fisher to a $2 million, one-year contract or a two-year deal at the veteran's minimum of $1.2 million per year.
Speaking of guards, the Lakers are waiting to see how the contract situations of backup guards Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown play out in the offseason. Shannon Brown has a $2.2 million player option for the 2010-2011 season while Jordan Farmar will likely be extended the $2.8 million qualifying offer.
Should Shannon Brown opt out of his current contract and sign with another team, or should Jordan Farmar leave L.A. for a higher salary that the Lakers will certainly not match, then the Lakers will explore signing unrestricted free agent guards Luke Ridnour or Raymond Felton.
In addition to guard depth, the Lakers are also considering bolstering the wing depth of the bench unit. The Lakers will not maintain small forward Adam Morrison, and do not see Slovenian guard Sasha Vujacic as an important role player once his contract ends in 2011. The Lakers will inquire about the availability of free agent shooters Kyle Korver or Mike Miller.
The Lakers have also offered a guaranteed one-year deal to 2009 preseason attendee Thomas Kelati, whose international play for the Spanish team Valencia BC has drawn the interest of multiple suitors. The Lakers see Thomas Kelati as an athletic swingman with shooting capability similar to former Laker Trevor Ariza. However, Thomas Kelati is expected to remain in Europe for the next year.
Lastly, despite the positive relationships of bench players DJ Mbenga and Josh Powell with the core of the team, the Lakers are not expected to re-sign either free agent for the next NBA season.
The Lakers are looking at a variety of options to bolster the bench with some experienced big men, and will gauge the interest of veterans Kurt Thomas and Joe Smith, both of whom are contemplating retirement. The Lakers will attempt to persuade these veterans to accept the veteran's minimum and chase a ring with the defending champions.