In some respects, the Los Angeles Lakers have reverted to their old selves in a matter of days.
After the surprise signing of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, it seemed the Lakers had finally turned a corner and shed a reputation encouraging free agents to look elsewhere.
In other ways, though, the Lakers took important steps forward—like when the team's younger players helped Los Angeles win a Las Vegas Summer League title. Lonzo Ball didn't play in the finale, but two triple-doubles suggested big things for the rookie right out of the gates.
The above two details align to show why it's so important for the Lakers to make another move, yet Magic Johnson and the front office have backed themselves into a corner.
Before the front-loaded deal for KCP—one of the team's biggest wins in a long time—the Lakers flirted with the idea of a veteran like Rajon Rondo. With cap space limited and the veteran perhaps wanting to compete for a playoff spot, he wound up signing with the New Orleans Pelicans, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical.
So where does this leave the Lakers in the hunt to find quality depth behind Ball?
The Lakers could end up looking from within, as captured by Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com:
This certainly isn't as sexy as making a splash with Rondo, who is not only a recognizable name but a quality veteran presence with a track record of strong mentor traits over his last two stops.
Still, Tyler Ennis isn't a terrible consolation prize after winning the KCP sweepstakes. He'd align well with the cap space left and is all of 22 years old. After flashing well last year over a short period, the Lakers letting him run wild with the second unit could shore up depth at the point for a long time.
But, as the report mentioned, the Lakers have other options. Isaiah Canaan is only 26 and has acted as quality second-unit depth throughout his career. Ian Clark is a holdover from the Golden State Warriors who would represent another big win for the Lakers because he's also 26 and hit almost 50 percent of his shots from the floor last year.
If the Lakers want to explore the veteran mentor slant a little more, it's clear the team still has options after Rondo.
For instance, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News wrote the team has eyes on not only Clark, but Rodney Stuckey: "The Lakers have also shown interest in guards Rodney Stuckey and Ian Clark, though their interest has not been considered as strong."
At this stage in his career, the 31-year-old Stuckey likely won't mind settling for a short deal if it means a chance at continuing to play. His numbers from the last few years won't jump off the page, but the Lakers don't need numbers from backcourt depth—just everything else that comes with it.
One oddball option emerging late in the process is a potential reunion with Jordan Farmar. According to HoopsHype's Alex Kennedy, the 30-year-old veteran wants to get back on the court and has his eyes set on the Lakers thanks to the former connection there and the team's current situation:
Farmar appeared in two games with the Sacramento Kings last season and last suited up for the Lakers in 2013-14. His numbers don't exactly jump off the page either, but experience within the organization and a veteran status make him an attractive last-ditch option.
Viewed from a long-term lens, it doesn't matter which way the Lakers go here. Ball has a good head on his shoulders and the roster has other veteran leaders such as Brook Lopez and Luol Deng, not to mention guys who have been around for a while like Jordan Clarkson.
The future, in a word, is bright, regardless of Los Angeles' struggle to fill a spot here. It's a self-inflicted wound as the team eyes a major splash in 2018, where guys such as Paul George and LeBron James could hit the open market.
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In the interim, these Lakers will at least be fun to watch. Ball reeled in the summer league MVP award and rookie Kyle Kuzma poured in 30 points in the title game, hinting at big things for him behind Julius Randle. Don't forget KCP will try to stuff the stat sheet every night for a big payday next summer, in Los Angeles or elsewhere, and Brandon Ingram will continue to develop.
So while struggles on the market right now feel familiar, they're not because past problems in this area were never preceded by major wins.
All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.