The Los Angeles Lakers are the 2019-20 champions, but life in the NBA moves fast, and the focus has already turned to what's next for the franchise. Namely, what moves will they pursue to repeat as champions next season?
We start with Anthony Davis, who unsurprisingly is going to hit free agency this offseason, though he almost assuredly won't be leaving the Lakers.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic: "Davis plans to opt out of his $28.7 million player option and re-sign with the Lakers, sources tell The Athletic. Davis and his agent, Rich Paul, will hold meetings in the coming weeks to discuss the situation and the contract term that is most sensible for Davis."
Charania reported that those options include:
- A two-year, $68.1 million deal with a player option for the second season.
- A three-year, $106 million deal with a player option for the third year that would "bring Davis to 10 years of service before 2022 free agency and thus make him eligible for the 35 percent max contract. Using a $125 million cap projection in 2022, Davis' max deal would be worth $253.75 million over five years, or $196 million over four years."
- A four-year, $146.6 million deal with a player option for the fourth season. This would put him "in line for a $266.4 million max over five years or $205.8 million over four years" in 2023.
So any way you slice it, a major payday is coming Davis' way, and it's going to come from the Lakers. No surprises there after his overwhelming success during his first season in Los Angeles.
But who will be joining him in L.A. next season? Well, other than LeBron James, of course.
Charania reported that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is "expected" to opt out of his $8.5 million player option, though there is "significant mutual interest" between him and the Lakers. Other teams will come calling after he played well in the postseason, averaging 10.7 points per game while shooting 41.8 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from three.
Rajon Rondo seems likely to be back with the Lakers after proving to be a crucial performer for them in the NBA Finals, with Charania noting that "sources said Rondo is expected to decline his option, and he will have interest from the Lakers and others believing he is a piece to build on a championship roster."
Finally, Charania noted that the Lakers and Dwight Howard "have mutual interest in a deal," though the Golden State Warriors will also reportedly be interested in signing the veteran big man.
The Lakers don't have a clear route to bringing aboard a third star, lacking the cap space at the moment to attract a player like Fred VanVleet—who would be a fantastic fit alongside James and Anthony—or the trade capital to go after a game-changer. That may mean their best option is to yet again surround Davis and James with the type of veteran role players who helped them win a title this past season.
That could mean players like KCP, Rondo and Howard return. It could also mean the team pokes around a player like Derrick Rose. One general manager told Sean Deveney of Heavy that he believes the Lakers will re-engage with the Detroit Pistons after the two sides reportedly talked ahead of this season's trade deadline:
"I think both sides were reluctant when they went into in January, February. I don't think the Lakers wanted to make a major move because they thought they could do something on the buyout market. And I don't think the Pistons wanted to make a major move because Derrick was happy there. You know, the Lakers wanted to be involved in case the Clippers got involved or someone else, the Bucks or the Nuggets, whoever. So there was interest but not too serious. Now, everything has shifted a little. Now, they're both in a position to where a deal is much more likely now."
Rose, 32, was fantastic for the Pistons in the 2019-20 season, averaging 18.1 points and 5.6 assists in 50 games, largely coming off the bench.
Deveney reported the Lakers offered Alex Caruso and a draft pick in those initial talks, while the Pistons wanted Kyle Kuzma. In the past, the thought of the Lakers giving up Kuzma for an aging point guard would have sent Lakers fans into a tizzy.
But Kuzma has never been the most natural fit with James and Davis and was moved to a role off the bench this season. He was just the team's fourth-leading scorer (10 points per game) in the postseason, and the need for a quality point guard like Rose is greater than the need for another power forward.
Plus, Kuzma is entering the final year in his rookie contract. If the Lakers don't spend on extending him, trading him now makes sense.
That doesn't mean a Kuzma-and-pieces-for-Rose swap is inevitable. But there's a strong argument to be made that it would make sense.