Almost immediately after Kawhi Leonard told the world of his decision to join the Los Angeles Clippers, Rob Pelinka and the Los Angeles Lakers got to work on filling the roster with key pieces. Many believe that they did relatively well, forming a deep, talent roster that is expected to push for championship honours.
Pelinka and Co. have kept their options open and left one guaranteed roster spot available until they decide on who the final piece of the puzzle is. Whilst Aric Holman, Devontae Cacok, Jordan Caroline, and Demetrius Jackson, who have all been invited to training camp on ‘Exhibit 10’ deals, will have their eyes firmly on the last guaranteed place, below are 3 potential veteran free agents (or buyout candidates) who may find their way into consideration.
I think by now it is pretty common knowledge that the number one choice for that final roster spot across the franchise is Andre Iguodala. The-35-year old, 3-time NBA Champion, and 2015 Finals MVP, would be the perfect fit in a roster that, barring LeBron James, is thin on the ground at the Small Forward position.
Iguodala is currently with the Memphis Grizzlies after being moved out of the Golden State Warriors in order to free up cap space to sign ex-Laker D’Angelo Russell. If a suspected buyout does arrive for Iguodala, then he won’t be short of suitors, with the Houston Rockets highly touted to make a run at him also. However, the Lakers may have the upper hand in that General Manager Rob Pelinka was Iguodala’s agent before taking up his post in Los Angeles.
The stumbling block in this is the obvious need for a buy-out from Memphis. The Grizzlies are actively looking for a future 1st round pick, but the longer time goes on, they may take a 2nd rounder in exchange for Iguodala, instead of simply buying him out.
You would expect this kind of move to manufacture itself later on in the season when contending teams look to veterans to strengthen their rosters going into the post-season. If the Grizzlies decide to wait it out then the Lakers may have to look elsewhere to fill that remaining roster spot.
- 2018-19 Stats: 5.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 50% FG, 33% 3P
- Career Stats: 12.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 47% FG, 33% 3P
Another contender is the 2013 NBA Scoring Champion, 10-time NBA All-Star, summer work out partner of Kyle Kuzma, and close friend of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony.
It is a given that a 35-year-old Anthony would bring scoring off the bench for the Lakers, alongside his veteran leadership qualities that are pivotal in a championship chase. But the questions with Anthony lie both defensively and with his ability to be an integral team player.
Maybe, just maybe, partnering him alongside LeBron James may eradicate some of these nagging issues. Team that with the fact that the Lakers would be giving him a last shot at a ring before his pending retirement. Anthony may come in with a fresh hunger to achieve like never before.
A player of Anthony’s stature and ability doesn’t often present itself so easily, although there are obvious league-wide red flags with him, as he is yet to find a serious suitor in August. With Kyle Kuzma recently singing Anthony’s praises as a leader and a mentor, and with the LeBron link, it’s a real possibility that Carmelo Anthony could be a member of the purple and gold before the start of the season.
- 2018-19 Stats: 13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 41% FG, 33% 3P (10 games)
- Career Stats: 24 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 45% FG, 35% 3P
In addition, 29-year-old Power Forward, Kenneth Faried, could be an option for the Lakers. The roster already possesses 3 big men in Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and JaVale Mcgee, who have all in the past suffered from injuries. Faried is a strong, versatile option who can cover both the 4 and the 5 positions.
While Faried doesn’t come with the reputation and leadership qualities that Iguodala or Anthony does, he would be a valuable asset coming off the back of averaging just short of 13 points and 8 rebounds in just 25 minutes for the Rockets at the end of last season.
Pair that with his career best 35% shooting from 3 during his short time in Houston. He isn’t considered a knock down shooter, but he will be sure to get his fair chance of opportunities in that regard within the Lakers’ new-look offense.
The only stumbling block could be Faried’s asking price, especially after his stellar time with the Rockets. But as the season draws closer, the more likely it is that Faried will need to lower his expectations when it comes to a bigger deal than that of last year’s minimum.
- 2018-19 Stats: 9 points, 6 rebounds, 59% FG, 28% 3P (12 games with Brooklyn, 25 games with Houston. With the latter he averaged 12.9 points and 8.2 points per game)
- Career Stats: 11.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1 assist, 55% FG, 22% 3P
Update: With Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins having recently suffered a torn ACL in his left knee, Kenneth Faried may be up for serious consideration. Other center candidates include; Dwight Howard (who is expecting a buyout from the Memphis Grizzlies), Joakim Noah, Mo Speights, and Marcin Gortat.
There are a some other players worth consideration for the final roster spot, all of whom could feature in Pelinka’s plans.
If the Lakers want pure scoring, then they can do no better than that of wily veteran, Jamal Crawford. At 39-years-old Crawford must be entering the final year(s) of his career, there’s no better time for him to ring chase than now.
When a play has broken down and you need a someone to step-up and make a bucket, you can’t go far wrong with Jamal Crawford.
- 2018-19 Stats: 7.9 points, 1.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 40% FG, 33% 3P, 85% FT
- Career Stats: 14.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 41% FG, 35% 3P, 86% FT
Thabo Sefolosha is a defensive juggernaut, ranking 3rd in “Defensive Real Plus-Minus” for Small Forwards in the league last season (better than Iguodala). The concerns regarding Sefolosha are that he is now 35-years-old coming off the back of an ACL injury.
- 2018-19 Stats: 3.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 48% FG, 44% 3P (50 games)
- Career Stats: 5.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 45% FG, 35% 3P
Shaun Livingston has been an integral backup point guard throughout his tenure with the Warriors. After 5-years with Golden State, which resulted in 3 NBA titles, Livingston found himself to be a free-agent this summer.
He will have many suitors, for sure. As teams look to add veteran leadership quality to their roster. If a championship winning veteran on restricted minutes is at the forefront of Pelinka’s shopping list then Livingston must be up for consideration.
- 2018-19 Stats: 4 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 52% FG, 0% 3P, 15 MPG
- Career Stats: 6.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3 assists, 48% FG, 20 MPG
Whoever the Lakers choose to fill the final spot will need to fit in with the ethos that has been instilled in this newly built roster. A team that, on paper, looks experienced, competitive, and with a single goal in mind. To win a championship.
By Ashley Hooper (@Hoopdream_)