Free Agency Revolves Around The Boardroom And The Board Man
NBA free agency kicked off with a bang on Sunday afternoon, with several high profile players inking deals with new teams. Two of the biggest names on the market were Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who both agreed to terms with the Brooklyn Nets shortly after the free agency period opened. Durant took to Instagram to communicate his decision, using The Boardroom’s Instagram page to announce his intentions to head east.
Durant and Irving had previously been rumored to have interest in joining the Lakers this summer, but it became clear the two friends very badly wanted to play together, a reality that Brooklyn could promise and the Lakers could not. For the Lakers, there are far worse things that could happen; neither ‘Uncle Drew’ nor ‘The Slim Reaper’ qualify as option A for the Lakers this summer. That title belongs to another superstar. And we all know Board Man Gets Paid.
By now the mutual interest between Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Lakers is no secret. Leonard grew up in southern California, going to high school an hour away from Staples Center and attended college at San Diego State University. Multiple reports from last summer suggested Kawhi was always interested in coming home to play in Los Angeles. While some have listed the Clippers as a strong contender to secure Leonard’s services, reading the tea leaves seems to suggest that it’s the Lakers boxing out the Clippers, not the other way around. While no report is official as of this writing, many prominent NBA media members are either directly or indirectly saying Kawhi to the Lakers is close to, if not already, a done deal.
It’s possible that free agent Danny Green—a teammate of Leonard on both the Spurs and Raptors—is waiting to sign with a team until the Kawhi news becomes official. Dreams of inking Danny Green for the veteran minimum may sound silly, but it is worth noting that Green’s business partner said on Instagram Live that Green had a very ‘long and productive’ phone call with the Lakers.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll assume Kawhi Leonard does indeed sign with the Lakers. A dangerous assumption to make for sure, but one that will add some potential clarity to questions regarding how exactly the Lakers fill out their roster to surround their new big three.
The Klutch Connection
Agent Rich Paul and Klutch Sports Group have come to yield a significant amount of power in the NBA. Paul represents a long list of NBA players, most notably LeBron James and Anthony Davis. New Lakers draftee Talen Horton-Tucker is also (you guessed it) represented by Klutch.
During LeBron’s second tour with Cleveland, the Cavaliers made sure to do all they could to keep Klutch clients happy; Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith both received extremely generous contracts well above their market value. With LeBron James now in Los Angeles, it appears likely that Rich Paul’s influence may be needed once again. Paul has several clients that are free agents this summer, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see at least one end more up in Los Angeles. The relationship that exists between Klutch, James, Davis, and the Lakers should help immensely as the Lakers go bargain hunting.
Twin forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris are both represented by Klutch. While they might ultimately prove to be too expensive for the Lakers liking, both players would add versatility and toughness at the forward spot. The fact that both players remain available following the avalanche of new contracts agreed upon across the league, is somewhat encouraging for Lakers fans. With the Morris market shrinking, that only increases the Lakers chances of adding one or both forwards. Los Angeles may also test the waters on free agent rim protector Nerlens Noel, who played backup center in Oklahoma City last season.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope signed one-year contracts with the Lakers prior to each of the past two seasons. In both instances, KCP was highly overpaid, leading to speculation that the Lakers were simply overpaying him to show agent Rich Paul good faith and do well by him. By having Caldwell-Pope in house the last two seasons, the Lakers were also able to extend the bridge of communication and speak freely with Rich Paul at any time. Of course, they only used this time to talk about Caldwell-Pope, and definitely NOT LeBron James. *wink wink*
Corey Joseph is another Klutch client no longer on the market after agreeing on a 3-year $37 million deal with the Sacramento Kings. The veteran point guard would have been a solid piece for the Lakers, who could certainly stand to use more depth at the position. Joseph is one of many veteran point guards who was initially an option for the Lakers, but no longer is. Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose, Ricky Rubio, Terry Rozier, Patrick Beverley, and Malcolm Brogdon have all signed elsewhere forcing the Lakers to get even more creative as they target their next point guard.
Minutes before publishing this article, free agent guard Seth Curry agreed to terms with Dallas, eliminating yet another option for the Lakers. It appears more and more realistic that Rajon Rondo will be brought back on a team-friendly short-term contract. Despite making headlines last season for the wrong reasons, Rondo could help boost the Lakers on-court chemistry as they try to gel together on the fly. The veteran point guard has great relationships and chemistry with Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
Editor’s Note: Following the Curry signing, the Lakers finally secured a free agent in the form of wing Troy Daniels. The former Sun comes to Los Angeles on a veteran minimum deal; Daniels shot 38% from three last year in Phoenix.
How The D’Angelo Russell Sign & Trade Unexpectedly Shaped The Lakers Summer
In order to make the money work in the Durant and Irving deals, the Brooklyn Nets had to either renounce the rights to D’Angelo Russell or unload the 23-year-old All-Star in a trade. Brooklyn found what they were looking for in the unlikeliest place—the Warriors sprang into action following the news Durant was leaving. Golden State happily took back D’Angelo Russell from the Nets in a move that prevented them from losing Kevin Durant for nothing.
You may be asking yourself how exactly the Warriors had the money to pull this off? The answer is that they didn’t—at least not at first, and not without giving up a valuable asset. In order for the money to equal out between Golden State and Memphis, the Warriors had to trade either Draymond Green or Andre Iguodala. Iguodala may be a future Hall Of Famer, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which player the Warriors would rather trade. Besides, there were league rules to consider.
In the blink of an eye, the Warriors sent Iguodala to the Grizzlies to free up the necessary cap room to take back D’Angelo Russell’s contract. The Grizzlies are clearly embarking on a rebuilding season, so there is little to no reason for them to keep Iguodala around and watch him cut into the minutes of younger core players. Should Memphis offer the 2015 NBA Finals MVP a buyout, he would be free to sign with any non-Warriors NBA team. Speculation is already building that Iguodala will be in purple and gold by season’s end, even if it isn’t by summers end. Theoretically, Iggy would be able to sign for the veteran minimum salary, which is allowed and does not count against the Lakers salary cap.
Andre Iguodala isn’ t the only Grizzlies wing facing a likely buyout. LeBron’s former teammate Kyle Korver also came to Memphis via trade this off-season. Like Iguodala, Korver likely won’t last very long as a member of the Grizzlies. With Seth Curry now gone from the free agent market, one of the Lakers best chances to add shooting may come from the buyout market in the form of Korver or J.R. Smith.
The 2019 NBA free agency period revolves around The Boardroom and The Board Man, but the less heralded moves the Lakers make to fill out their roster will still be critical to their success. The market is starting to look as thin as LeBron’s hairline, but that doesn’t mean the Lakers can’t find a diamond in the rough. Here are several free agents to keep an eye on, as the Lakers try to build around LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and hopefully, Kawhi Leonard.
|Available Guards & Wings||Available Bigs|
|Elfrid Payton, Rajon Rondo, TJ McConnell, Alex Caruso, Shelvin Mack, Trey Burke, Jeremy Lin, JJ Barea, Devin Harris, Quinn Cook, Wayne Ellington, Nik Stauskas, Alec Burks, Iman Shumpert, Ian Clark, Austin Rivers, Danny Green, Wes Matthews, Thabo Sefolosha, Jerryd Bayless, Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter, Wilson Chandler||JaVale McGee, Richaun Holmes, Noah Vonleh, Joakim Noah, Kevon Looney, DeMarcus Cousins, Nerlens Noel, Kenneth Faried, Tyson Chandler, Anthony Tolliver, Kyle O’Quinn, Enes Kanter, J’Mychal Green, Dante Cunningham, Jared Dudley, Luc Mbah a Moute|