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Buying or Selling the Latest Los Angeles Lakers Rumors in 2015 NBA Free Agency

Ehran Khan@@ekhansworldContributor IIIJuly 3, 2015

Sources say LaMarcus Aldridge hasn't made a final decision yet, but the Lakers would be wise to move past him all the same.
Sources say LaMarcus Aldridge hasn't made a final decision yet, but the Lakers would be wise to move past him all the same.Sam Forencich/Getty Images

As of this writing, the Los Angeles Lakers have yet to make any moves in free agency.

Most of the big prizes are already gone, which leaves LaMarcus Aldridge—whom the Lakers have met with twice already—as the lone star left to make a decision.

In addition to pursuing Aldridge, L.A. must focus on signing role players to fill out and marginally improve the roster.

The rumor mill is still churning as we continue through the moratorium period. Let's play a little "buy or sell" with the latest Lakers scuttlebutt.

Lakers Still in the Mix for Aldridge

Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports that the free-agent forward will take some time to pause and reflect over all the pitches he has received from teams this week before finalizing his decision.

As much as Lakers fans want to cling to the hope of luring Aldridge to L.A., you have to sell this one.

The mere fact that the Lakers brass screwed up the first meeting so badly that they had to request a second one tells you all you need to know about how that will play out. 

Others—such as Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling—have already reported that Aldridge is no longer considering Los Angeles.

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L.A. to L.A.? No way, I say.
L.A. to L.A.? No way, I say.Barry Gossage/Getty Images

And really, why would he choose the Lakers over more promising situations like the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns?

The Spurs can offer him instantaneous championship aspirations, as adding someone of Aldridge's caliber would vault the 2014 champs to the top of the pile in the West—maybe even ahead of the Golden State Warriors.

Meanwhile, in Phoenix, Aldridge would be The Man. With Tyson Chandler on board, the Suns look more appealing, and they have a dynamic young backcourt that is still improving and will keep the championship window open for a while.

All the Lakers can sell him on is the hope that they can find a second star to partner with him next summer (after a year of losing and missing the playoffs) and that the young kids on the roster will develop before his prime is behind him.

Aldridge is moving on, and it's time for the Lakers to do the same.

They can still get in on the periphery of the Aldridge sweepstakes, though. Teams are clearing cap room to make way for the All-Star forward. The Lakers can facilitate that by becoming a salary dumping ground, and in return for their generosity they can secure some assets.

Los Angeles already missed out on acquiring Tiago Splitter—who would have filled a glaring need at center but was traded to the Atlanta Hawks—from San Antonio, but the Lakers can still dance with the Suns.

Receiving Markieff Morris in exchange for giving Phoenix the cap space to pursue Aldridge is a nice compromise for the Lakers.
Receiving Markieff Morris in exchange for giving Phoenix the cap space to pursue Aldridge is a nice compromise for the Lakers.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Phoenix has to clear space to welcome both Chandler and Aldridge to the desert. The Lakers can absorb Markieff Morris and P.J. Tucker to land a really good young player on a fantastic deal (Morris is owed just $32 million total through 2019) and what is essentially an expiring contract (Tucker's $5.3 million salary in 2016-17 is non-guaranteed) attached to a guy who could start at small forward for L.A.

But that's as close to the Aldridge deal as the Lakers are getting. No stars are flocking to L.A. this summer.

Kosta Koufos on L.A.'s Radar

Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders reports that Koufos is drawing interest from a few teams, including the Lakers.

All the big-name centers are off the board, as are the second-tier options such as Robin Lopez and Omer Asik. Even the budget choices like Brandan Wright, Ed Davis and Alexis Ajinca have been snatched up.

That leaves Koufos as the best remaining free-agent center.

Koufos is more than serviceable as a starting 5. He started 81 games for the 2013 Denver Nuggets team that finished third in the West.

He's also spent the last two years serving as an apprentice to Marc Gasol, the best center in the league.

Koufos is a plus defender who can protect the basket. According to NBA.com, his field-goal percentage allowed on shots at the rim ranked 18th in the league, ahead of defensive luminaries such as Anthony Davis, DeAndre Jordan and, yes, even his teammate, Gasol.

On offense, Koufos has had his ups and downs. He thrived in Denver's free-flowing system, shooting nearly 60 percent from the field in his two seasons there. In Memphis' soul-crushing grinder he struggled a bit more, converting only around 50 percent of the time on far fewer and lower-quality looks as well.

Kosta Koufos is the best option remaining at center in free agency.
Kosta Koufos is the best option remaining at center in free agency.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

He's not a post-up threat at all, but he's a good finisher around the hoop, and as his career has gone along, he has shown significant improvement in his short-range game. He managed to shoot 45.5 percent in the tricky space between three and 10 feet, per Basketball-Reference, on a significant number of tries (about 40 percent of his total attempts came from that range).

Koufos is essentially the same player as Lopez, with a bit more rebounding but less touch from the charity stripe. If L.A. can get him for a bit less than what the Knicks paid for Lopez (four years, $54 million, according to Yahoo), it would be a solid deal for the Lakers. 

Lakers Interested in Amar'e Stoudemire

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News tweeted the notion that L.A. could turn to Stoudemire in free agency. That has since been backed up by Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling, who claims mutual interest between Stoudemire and several teams, including the Lakers.

How has it come to this? Five years ago Stoudemire's move to the New York Knicks was earth-shattering. Now he's an afterthought to the afterthought.

At the same time, you have to buy the Lakers kicking the tires on the former All-Star.

Stoudemire can still play a little bit—at least on offense. Even in limited minutes over the past couple of seasons he has still scored efficiently from the field (55.7 percent shooting each of the last two years) and has soaked up a lot of possessions when on the court. 

Though he's just a shell of his former self, Amar'e Stoudemire can at least provide some scoring punch from the center position.
Though he's just a shell of his former self, Amar'e Stoudemire can at least provide some scoring punch from the center position.Glenn James/Getty Images

The free-throw rate has fallen off and the defense is non-existent, but overall it's a similar package to what Carlos Boozer provided last season.

Is that exciting? Absolutely not, but for the right price he's worth consideration.

He's not worth big money anymore, and I certainly wouldn't want to lock him up long-term, but the Lakers do have a roster to fill out and a gaping hole in the middle. Stoudemire can at least handle some of those minutes and play a little pick-and-roll with the young guards.

Player moves courtesy of ESPN.com's tracker.

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