It was always believed the Los Angeles Lakers’ best chance at adding a major contributor would be through the buyout market.
With trade assets scarce, the team not making a move at the 2019-20 NBA trade deadline wasn’t a huge surprise, especially with what some teams were asking for.
Almost immediately following the deadline, some teams immediately began releasing players leading to some very intriguing options available to pickup. The name the Lakers — and seemingly all fans — had their eye on wasn’t a recent release, but rather one that had been considering a return to the league in Darren Collison.
Collison unexpectedly retired prior to 2019 NBA free agency but with rumors that he was considering a return, a potential match with the Lakers seemed ideal for both sides. However, he recently decided against a return and one NBA general manager believes that was a huge blow for the Lakers, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:
“That’s a blow,” a former general manager said. “I’m not sure the Lakers can find a better fit than Collison.”
With Collison no longer an option and the remaining options not as attractive, a lot of pressure now falls on the team’s current options, namely Rajon Rondo. He recently responded with an excellent outing against the Phoenix Suns, but one executive believes the Lakers still need to add another backcourt player:
“He overdribbles,” said a Western Conference executive. “The team needs another guard who can handle but who can also play off of LeBron as a shooter. That’s not Rondo.”
The Lakers are definitely doing their due diligence on all possibilities. A workout with J.R. Smith is reportedly in the works while the team is also expected to consider the likes of Dion Waiters and Tyler Johnson, who were both recently released. Each player brings their own positives and negatives.
Smith is a veteran with championship experience who knows how to play with James and can shoot and defend in spurts but hasn’t played in over a year. Waiters is the best creator of the bunch, but has had a ton of off-court issues this season. Johnson has the potential makings of a solid scorer and playmaker, but his shooting has fallen off a cliff the last two seasons and he might be the worst defender of the bunch.
Whether the Lakers make a move or stick with what they have, the production they get from their guards could be the deciding factor in how long their 2020 NBA playoff run lasts.