Even after getting rid of Timofey Mozgov‘s terrible contract, the Los Angeles Lakers are still cap stricken with their eyes set on the class of 2018. While the team does have enough cap space to sign one max-contract this off-season, they will likely wait to use it on the potential free agents of next year like Paul George and Lebron James.
That puts a first-time general manager, Rob Pelinka, and team president, Magic Johnson, in a peculiar position for their first free agency. The Lakers look like they will try to add complimentary pieces, on one-year deals, to their young core while holding out for next year’s crop.
Here are five players the team could add on affordable contracts or one-year contracts for players looking to prove something and get a bigger pay day in 2018.
5. Jonathon Simmons, Age 27, Small Forward/Shooting Guard
The Lakers now have plenty of two-guards after drafting Josh Hart, resigning David Nwaba and not trading Jordan Clarkson. While Simmons is only six foot six, his style of play differs from the other three.
Playing the last two season for the San Antonio Spurs saw Simmons blossom into a high-energy wing player that can defend and shoot threes – 32 percent for his career. Both categories the Lakers could use help in and Simmons would give them a nice, veteran presence who is coach-able.
Simmons should command some interest but might be willing to bet on himself with a lucrative one-year deal with the Lakers.
4. James Young, Age 21, Shooting Guard/Small Forward
It will be interesting to see what the Boston Celtics do with the 21-year old, former first-round pick. Young has failed to break the Celtics’ lineup and they are supposed to be major players in free agency this year.
The left-hander has supreme athleticism and length, with a seven foot wingspan. He came out of Kentucky after his freshman season and still has a ton of potential. His size and mobility should allow him to guard multiple positions and be an effective player on the fast break.
His free agent market is hard to gauge because of his lack of playing time but maybe the Lakers can lure him to Los Angeles on an affordable contract.
3. Reggie Bullock, Age 26, Small Forward
A former North Carolina Tar Heel, Bullock has already carved out a role for himself in the NBA. The six foot seven wing has played well for each team he has been on, including shooting over 38 percent and 41 percent from three each of the last two seasons in Detroit.
The Lakers could use his size, shooting ability and veteran presence at small forward behind Brandon Ingram. He also would not command too many minutes, allowing rookie Kyle Kuzma to work at the position as well.
Bullock could be an affordable free agent find for the Lakers who should be looking to add complimentary role players to the end of their bench. Bullock once played in Los Angeles for the Clippers and maybe he likes the city.
2. Darren Collison, Age 29, Point Guard
The theme of players “coming home” to Los Angeles is alive. Bringing back the California native and former UCLA Bruin would make a lot of sense for the Lakers. Collison stands just six feet tall but would be a reliable ball-handler behind Lonzo Ball.
The eight-year veteran is a career 38 percent three-point shooter and shot over 41 percent form three-point range last season. He also is a pesky defender, averaging at least one steal in all but one season of his career.
1. Tony Snell, Age 25, Small Forward/ Shooting Guard
Snell would be an excellent addition to the young core that the Lakers already have. His “three and D” style of play is exactly what this team is missing. Standing six foot seven, Snell has the length and quickness to guard multiple positions and gets after it defensively.
The 25-year old had his best year statistically last season for the Milwaukee Bucks. He had career highs in games, minutes, three-point percentage and points per game. His versatility would allow him to backup Ingram or start at shooting guard.
As a restricted free-agent, the Bucks have the option to match any offer another team presents to Snell. However, there are ways teams get around the restriction by front-loading contracts or offering a high salary for one year. He would not get the security of a long-term deal right away but if Snell wanted to bet on himself he could be in line for a big payday in 2018 and still play at home in Los Angeles in 2017.