Los Angeles Lakers fans are undoubtedly eager to know what the team will do in the postseason whenever the NBA resumes play. The Lakers, though, are already working on what they will do when the 2020 offseason begins.
Naturally, this season is at the forefront of L.A.'s focus, but the Lakers are looking to build a dynasty and there is a lot of work to be done to that end in the offseason.
The first order of business will be retaining Anthony Davis, who could potentially opt-out and test the free-agent market. After securing Davis, the Lakers will then look to get their key role players under contract. One of those role players—and a pleasant 2020 surprise—is Dwight Howard.
Howard has averaged 7.5 points and 7.4 rebounds while playing an average of 19.2 minutes per game. Unfortunately, keeping him could affect L.A.'s ability to retain other role players—four of whom are entering options years, like Davis.
"Howard is on a minimum deal with no Bird Rights. Assuming he's too good to sign another minimum deal, it means the Lakers would have to use a chunk of their mid-level ($9.25 million) to re-sign him," The Athletic's John Hollinger wrote.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo are all entering option years. If they don't all opt-in and the Lakers pay to retain Howard, one or more of them could be gone in 2021. If all four players opt-out, it would leave the Lakers with roughly $36 million in cap space but also seven roster holes to fill, as Hollinger pointed out:
"Using their full mid-level and bi-annual exceptions for two outside free agents, and signing minimums for two others, would leave L.A. about $20 million from the apron to try retaining two or three of the Caldwell-Pope/Bradley/McGee/Rondo quarter. Caldwell-Pope will have full Bird Rights and McGee and Rondo will have Early Bird Rights, but L.A. can only offer a 20 percent raise to Bradley (limiting them to $5.7 million)."
If all four players opt-in, the Lakers will have their support core in place but will also find it nearly impossible to add another significant piece to the proverbial puzzle. This is a real possibility, as the market for players like McGee and Caldwell-Pope could be limited, according to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register:
"Rondo who has largely sat seems like a lock to opt for another year. Bradley has started but has swayed in his offensive production and his injury history could hurt his market elsewhere. McGee has outperformed his contract, but he's also at center, which is the hardest position to get paid as a role player. Caldwell-Pope might have the best market of any of these players, but that market could be slashed due to the sinking salary cap, and perhaps L.A.'s chance to win makes it a little more appealing."
It feels more likely than not that the majority of the players who have the option will exercise it this offseason. That doesn't include Davis, of course, who will almost certainly opt-out and re-sign on a max contract.
LeBron James doesn't have an option year until the 2021-22 season, so that's one spot that involves no mystery.
It appears that most if not all of the Lakers' core will return for next season. Hopefully fans will soon find out whether that core is capable of bringing home a championship.