With another dreadful season in the making, Los Angeles Lakers fans are looking forward to the draft and free agency. The free-agent class of 2015 is not as great in years past but does have at least 10 great players before the dropoff. If the Lakers decide not to bring back Jeremy Lin, Jordan Hill (team option) and Ed Davis, they will have around $25 million to use in the free-agent market. The position they lack the most has been in the center and point-guard positions. Teams are walking to the basket with no big-man presence. Players like DeAndre Jordan and Rajon Rondo would be great acquisitions to help their defense, which is last in the league. Most of the players listed in the top five below will depend how well the teams do in the playoffs.
LaMarcus Aldridge (Blazers unrestricted free agent) — Expect the Lakers, along with many other teams, to aggressively go after the power forward from Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge. The athletic 29-year-old will be the hottest free agent in the 2015 class. Obviously, it will be a major upgrade from Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis, and having Julius Randle, who is recovering from a broken leg, as the backup power forward would be an awesome 1-2 punch in the position. In order for the Lakers to have a chance at grabbing Aldridge, the Blazers need to have a bad season. However, that’s not happening. They’re first in their division with a 20-6 record. Portland will do everything to its power to keep Aldridge. If it loses him to free agency, the Lakers would be the front-runners. Valued in the $20 million range. Below is a highlight from a playoff game against the Rockets last year where he scored 43 points with 18 rebounds.
Marc Gasol – (Grizzlies unrestricted free agent) – Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers 2007, Marc Gasol could be looking at a new time if the Grizzlies don’t win a title or at least make it to the finals. Under Gasol, the Grizzlies have made it to the playoffs the past four seasons and made it to the Western Conference Finals in 2013, where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs. Expect Phil Jackson and the Knicks to compete with the Lakers and Grizzlies for the leading candidate for MVP as Amare Stoudemire will likely leave after the season. Gasol is panning out to be a better player than his brother. Valued in the $20 million range.
Rajon Rondo (Mavericks unrestricted free agent)– The Lakers say they will pursue Rajon Rondo once he becomes a free agent. In fact, they attempted to acquire him Friday by trading away Steve Nash. But of course, the Boston Celtics said no. Kobe Bryant and Rondo were spotted at a café in Boston just before the rivalry matchup at the Garden to recruit the 28-year-old. Valued in the $15 million range.
DeAndre Jordan (unrestricted free agent) – The flashy center will be an unrestricted free-agent after spending seven seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers. Many thought the Clippers overpaid Jordan, who had averaged just 7.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots in 2011 when he signed a four-year, $43 million deal. But as soon as Doc Rivers came into the picture, Jordan added a defensive game that all NBA players are afraid of. The Lakers will make Marc Gasol a priority, but if they can’t grab him, expect the Lakers to go after him. If the Clippers re-sign him, new Clippers owner will have to pay a significant luxury tax hit. If he comes to the purple and gold, the Lakers need to find a legitimate point guard. Valued in the $20 million range.
Kawhi Leonard (restricted free agent) – Kawhi Leonard is expected to get a huge raise from his $3 million salary he’s getting this season with the Spurs. The Finals MVP out of Riverside will exercise his option at the end of the season but will give the Spurs the opportunity to match any other offers. One of those teams will be the Lakers. It is unlikely the Lakers will get him because they normally don’t go after restricted free agents because they would have to pay higher-than-market value, which could be around $15 million.