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Free Agency 2019

NBA Free Agency 2019: What should the Los Angeles Lakers do with their max cap space?

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LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving [NBA Getty Images]

Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): Big news out of Los Angeles as the Lakers now have enough cap space to add another max contract in free agency.

As reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers are trading Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones to Wizards as part of the Anthony Davis deal with New Orleans. That move, along with the announcement that Davis will waive his $4M trade kicker, frees up enough space for the Lakers to go after another major star.

Whew.

There's two main questions now moving forward:

  1. Should the Lakers spend all of that on one more big star? Or should they split it up in favour of more depth?
  2. If it's the star, who is the best fit next to LeBron and AD?

Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): I think it would be best for them to split up the money, but if they were to sign another star, I'm not sure there's anyone who fits better next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis than Kemba Walker.

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I'm cringing as I type this, but I could think of another free agent superstar who would fit in pretty well there ... Kyrie Irving.

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Kemba and Kyrie are both great fits, but I honestly think a 1-2 punch of LeBron and AD is enough. We learned in this year's Finals that things happen. Don't sacrifice depth by swinging big.

Adams: The third star is nice in theory. But I'm in the camp that more depth is more important. Don't kid yourselves ... when the playoffs roll around (THEY HAVE TO MAKE IT FIRST!!!), LeBron will have the ball in his hands a ton. The diminishing returns for a third big star are very real.

OK so let's say they opt for multiple pieces instead of the big fish ... before actual names, what are the roles they need to fill?

McGregor: Well, the obvious role on a LeBron team would be shooting. They need a pure marksman with the ability to spot up, run off screens, the whole nine.

MORE: Best shooters in free agency

Rafferty: So, Danny Green or JJ Redick.

McGregor: They both fit the bill to a T. I'd give Redick the edge as a shooter no doubt, but Green adds another dimension as a defender … which is another role they'll need to fill.

Rafferty: There's also Terrence Ross, but I think Green or Redick would be a better fit.

In addition to a shooter, they need a center to pair with Anthony Davis because he prefers to play power forward.

Adams: That can't be one of the big dollar spots though, right? It's AD, LeBron and Kuzma so far. Plus, under this scenario, a shooter.

Irving: If we're divvying up the money with championship aspirations in mind, why not just target guys with championship experience? Danny Green, Kevon Looney, Rajon Rondo. Boom. You have winners across the board.

Rafferty: Rondo? It's not 2008 anymore.

Irving: Ask AD what he thinks about Playoff Rondo. The 2018 Playoffs were last year, Scott ... 21 assists in a game.

McGregor: Oh boy.

Adams: They literally have nobody to defend guards right now. Championship banners aren't stopping the James Hardens and Steph Currys of the world. Everyone will say Patrick Beverley, but he's never gotten paid and he's entering a market with tons of point guard needy teams with tons of money. If it's $32M split 3 or 4 ways, I'm not sure they can afford him.

McGregor: Who else out there do you go for as a perimeter defender? Is it worth putting pressure on Milwaukee with a nice offer to Malcolm Brogdon? A Trevor Ariza return?

Rafferty: I'm not sure Ariza is good enough anymore. Brogdon would be perfect for the Lakers, but they have to be careful about overpaying. Brogdon could command something like $25-plus million a year. If he's going to cost that much, you might as well go after Kemba, Kyrie or Jimmy Butler.

Adams: Going for Brogdon probably takes you out of Green and Redick as well. It gets thin real quick. Darren Collison? George Hill? LeBron's been there, done that. Ditto for Derrick Rose. Emmanuel Mudiay can't shoot. Elfrid Payton can't shoot. Rajon Rondo can't shoot.

MORE: Best point guards in free agency

McGregor: Yikes, I mean, when you put it that way ... they might want to look at just getting a third big name.

Irving: I actually don't hate George Hill there. Especially after seeing what he did in the playoffs for Milwaukee this year.

Adams: I weirdly think the presence of Kuzma hurts. They'd be far better off if that third guy already on the roster was a guard or legitimate wing rather than the tweener 3/4 type.

Rafferty: Is it crazy to think they could get Beverley and Green? Because they would be perfect.

McGregor: I like the idea of Beverley and Green. I still think they'd need one more shooter even with Green and Kuzma on the roster.

Adams: So we're building the Lakers ... let's say they did land Beverley and Green for $25M. That leaves about $7M to add some non-AD rim protection. Maybe that's enough to land a Looney type, but I doubt it.

MORE: Best rim protectors in free agency

Rafferty: Some other centres who would fit well: Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, JaVale McGee and Dewayne Dedmon.

Adams: Timofey Mozgov got roughly 8 billion dollars in the summer of 2016 and this summer is supposed to be just as crazy, if not crazier.

Robin Lopez would be great.

Irving: Nerlens Noel just declined his player option. He was pretty under-the-radar good for OKC this past season. I can't imagine he'd break the bank and he's athletic enough to rim run on this team.

McGregor: I don't hate Dedmon for them either. He's a SoCal guy, too. And AD wouldn't have to play the C until late game situations. That's ideal, right? Brook Lopez is going to command a lot of money but Dedmon quietly shot 38.2% from deep last year. 3.4 attempts per game too.

Adams: Door No. 1: Beverley, Green and Dedmon/Lopez. Not bad! Door No. 2: a third star ... who should it be?

Rafferty: Kemba gets my vote.

Irving: Again, cringing, but Kyrie. We saw how good he was with LeBron and Kevin Love. Imagine him with LeBron and AD!

Adams: Kemba and Kyrie feel the most natural and ideal. It has to be one of them, right? Kawhi would be insane but again ... they have three players already, all of whom play in the frontcourt.

Rafferty: I mean if they can get Kawhi, they have to get Kawhi. But I know what you mean. The fit isn't as clean as it would be with Kemba and Kyrie.

McGregor: If they had Kawhi, they could make it work from a talent standpoint. But from a pure fit standpoint, I'm going with Kyrie. Run it back.

Adams: What about D'Angelo Russell? Maybe he comes cheaper than the max, leaving a few extra bucks for a non minimum guy.

Rafferty: I still feel like he's going to cost $20-plus million, which doesn't leave them much room.

Irving: I like the idea of D'Angelo Russell, too. He's awesome and is only going to continue to get better. But if I'm the Lakers brass, I'm still targeting Kyrie or Kemba first. If you're gonna spend, spend big.

Adams: Here's a thought ... LeBron is entering his 17th season. There's no guarantee he's staying healthy, as we just saw. Is AD-Kyrie/Kemba-Kuzma plus minimum guys any better than AD-Jrue-rest of Pelicans? We saw how good that team was. You go through the options for depth and it runs dry quick. Then you think, OK just go for the star. But then you remember you're relying on health for guys that probably shouldn't be relied upon for health. In which case you land on leaning heavily on guys that are fringe NBA players at best.

Irving: Definitely. All jokes aside, Rondo was legitimately the third best player on that Pelicans playoff team two seasons ago. AD-Kyrie/Kemba-Kuz should be able to stay afloat. If AD is as good as everyone is convinced he is, there should be no issues if LeBron is forced to miss some time due to injury.

Rafferty: I agree with Kyle. I love Jrue Holiday, but I think he's best suited as a third option on a team. There's no question Kyrie and Kemba are good enough to be the No. 2, so I think their ceiling would be much higher.

Irving: We're going to learn a lot about AD as competitor this season. There's no more excuses when you're playing next to arguably the greatest player who ever lived.

Adams: I agree. It feels like no matter which door they choose, 2019-20 is starting to shape up as somewhat of a referendum on AD. Opening up a max slot certainly helps and puts some more options on the table, but the path forward isn't necessarily any more clear today than it was yesterday.

One way or the other, the Lakers will be can't miss drama come June 30.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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