The Los Angeles Lakers are heading into a critical summer with several important roster decisions ahead. The Lakers are hoping to reconstruct a title-contending roster around their star players. One of those situations may see a financial dilemma unfold quickly for Los Angeles.
Lakers’ early playoff exit alters offseason game plan
The Lakers fell well short of the lofty goal of capturing a second straight NBA title, bowing out in the first round of the playoffs.
The disappointing postseason exit quickly shifted the attention toward the Lakers’ offseason plans. The organization wants to maximize LeBron James’ window to compete for a championship while he’s under contract for two more years.
With that in mind, one of those pivotal roster decisions could see a massive financial dilemma emerge.
Lakers may potentially lose a key talent this upcoming offseason: ‘I’d max him out’
The Lakers hold a few crucial roster decisions ahead with key role players heading into free agency.
Among them is Talen Horton-Tucker, who will enter the open market as a restricted free agent. Despite the designation, one Eastern Conference executive told Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report he would offer the 20-year-old a max contract.
“I’d max him out,” the executive said.
Horton-Tucker is coming off a solid second season in which he averaged a career-high 9.0 points, 2.8 assists, and 2.6 rebounds on 45.8% shooting from the floor while playing 20.1 minutes per contest in 65 regular-season games. He tallied double-digit points 27 times and four double-doubles.
Horton-Tucker also became only the second bench player since 1983-84 to record at least 17 points, five rebounds, four steals, three assists in 21 or fewer minutes played in a single game. As a starter, he averaged 12.8 points, 7.5 assists, and 1.5 steals.
Although Horton-Tucker played a limited role, he demonstrated tremendous growth in his playmaking as a passer and scorer.
Reports have already emerged that several teams may make a strong offer to secure the Iowa State product.
However, the Lakers hold the final say with the ability to match any offer sheet he receives. The question remains whether Los Angeles is willing to dish out any amount to keep him.
Several other big offseason decisions lie ahead
Horton-Tucker’s future is among the many situations the Lakers’ front office must address this upcoming offseason.
Several other players such as Dennis Schroder, Andre Drummond, Markieff Morris, Wesley Matthews, and Alex Caruso are heading into the open market. Each player aside from Drummond has publicly voiced an interest in re-signing with Los Angeles.
However, the expectation is the organization will make some notable roster changes to construct an NBA title contender. The only certainty at this point is that LeBron James and Anthony Davis will head the roster. Beyond that, there is no clarity about whether Los Angeles wants to retain Schroder or Drummond.
The Lakers could look into the trade market to improve the roster with star talent. Early reports indicate the team may re-explore acquiring All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry in a sign-and-trade scenario. The Lakers nearly landed Lowry before last season’s trade deadline, but the front office’s reluctance to include Horton-Tucker in an offer prevented the move.
General manager Rob Pelinka may also look into gauging the trade market for Kyle Kuzma as he could become a piece to acquire more proven talent. Los Angeles may have some difficulty moving Kuzma due to his playoff struggles and often sporadic production.
Nonetheless, there are several different routes the Lakers can head down to reshape the roster and build a championship contender.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.