Lakers
Photo Credit: LA Times

Lakers Offseason 2020: Who’s Leaving? Who’s Staying?

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The Los Angeles Lakers won the 2020 NBA Finals in the Orlando Disney World Bubble.

 

Photo Caption: Lakers Daily

LeBron James and Anthony Davis ended up leading the Lakers to beat the Miami Heat in six games. Even though James and Davis were the leaders, many of their role players stepped up during the playoffs. Dwight Howard ended up the starting center over JaVale McGee in the series against the Denver Nuggets, Rajon Rondo kept the Lakers within many games with his high basketball IQ, and Markieff Morris was given more minutes throughout the playoffs which helped the team tremendously.

Unfortunately, basketball is a business and so many of those role players are now free agents or have a player option. In this article, I will analyze all of these players to determine who will stay and who will leave. 

I’m starting off with the unrestricted free agents who are nearly guaranteed to leave.

J.R. Smith signed with the Lakers right before the playoffs. He barely played any minutes, but he has another ring in his collection. At his age, he has no reason to play another year. He will most likely retire, ending his career with the championship  The Lakers have no reason to resign him unless things go wrong with the virus and they really need another body. Jared Dudley is another player that’s nearly guaranteed to be off the Lakers next season.

He is an older player who impacts the team off the court much more than on it. The Lakers need to save as much money as possible, and with the possibility of losing Dwight Howard this offseason, their money needs to go to productive players. Dudley should take the same route as Smith and retire after being part of a championship team.

 

 

This one isn’t as obvious as the others, but odds are that unrestricted free agent Dion Waiters won’t be with the Lakers next season.

 

 

Dion Waiters
Photo Caption: Syracuse

This is because of the same reasons as Smith. Waiters is old, he didn’t play many minutes, and the Lakers shouldn’t need him again. He wasn’t as bad as Smith and Dudley, but the odds that the Lakers resign him are significantly low. Another unrestricted free agent that was valuable to the Lakers in the playoffs is Markieff Morris.

The Lakers would love to keep him. He played at least 15 minutes in most of the playoff games while playing solid defense. He even increased his three-point shooting ability when the Lakers needed it the most. The only problem for the Lakers is that after his playoff stint, his value probably skyrocketed. Teams with more money that need that kind of productivity will want to give him a shot. Since he is an unrestricted free agent with rather high value, his days as a Laker are most likely over. 

 

 

  Now for the last unrestricted free agent, Dwight Howard.

 

 

Dwight Howard
Photo Caption: Lakers Daily

He is the most unpredictable in this list, as nearly all basketball sources see his case as a coin toss. His value has also skyrocketed, but last season showed that he has clearly accepted that he is a role player at this point in his career. He was productive for the Lakers but also a bit long in the tooth. So even though his value increased, people don’t know how many teams will offer him big money.

Thoughts are that if he gets offered a contract that will cover him for the rest of his career, he’ll go with it. Teams like the Golden State Warriors that need a center will probably be in the hunt for his services. The biggest factors for Howard to stay are how much he’s loved playing for the Lakers and how much he wants to win.

Since he is so happy with the Lakers it would not be surprising to see him take another cheap deal to stay. This is a coin toss but I’m personally leaning more towards the fact that he’s happy with the ring and will sign a multi-year contract to end his career with another team.

 

 

 

           Moving on to the players with a player option for the next season.

 

 

JaVale McGee will probably stay because he did not increase his value enough to get the attention of other teams. Even though he did play fewer minutes in the playoffs, sharing minutes with Howard was still useful for the team. He’s useful enough for the Lakers to keep him but not good enough for any other teams to target him. In all likelihood, he will be a Laker next season.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was productive for the Lakers and shot 38.5 percent from three for the season, which is the highest percentage he’s shot in a season for his career so far. Even though he only averaged 9 points per game, his three-point shooting significantly helped the Lakers in the playoffs. Even though his value is high, he is getting paid $8 million which is a lot for a young player. Since he’s getting paid a solid amount, there’s not a reason for him to want to leave, unless he values himself higher after testing the market. It is a safe contract for a young player on a good team, which is exactly what fits Caldwell-Pope, in my opinion.

Avery Bradley
Photo Caption: CNN.com

On the note of opting-out, many are speculating that that’s a huge possibility for Avery Bradley. Bradley is an incredibly useful player due to how good he is at defense and because he shoots 36 percent from three. 36 percent may not be great but since he’s an elite on-ball defender, he makes up for it.

The Lakers winning the NBA Finals without him plays a huge factor in this. Even though Bradley is a good player, the Lakers shouldn’t be that desperate to keep him. Bradley will most likely look for another high offer because of his value and the Lakers will not desperately fight for him. Those factors are enough to make me believe that Bradley will chase the bag and opt out of his Laker contract. 

Now for Rajon Rondo. He played a significant role in helping the Lakers win the NBA Finals. He is valuable and can now opt-out and chase a bag elsewhere. At the end of a long and successful career, many athletes want to secure the biggest possible paycheck for another year or two and retire with a safe amount of money.

I believe Rondo will follow that tendency and do the same thing. It is also possible that he is content with his money and wants to win more rings before he retires. The reason that I don’t believe that is because he has already won rings on multiple teams. There’s no reason he should not be happy with how much he’s already won in his career. Just my opinion…

Lastly, the best power forward in the league, Anthony Davis. There is no doubt that he is going to stay with the Lakers. They just won the championship, Davis loves playing with James, and the city of Los Angeles is one of the best places to live on the planet. This is when he will sign a long-term contract with the Lakers to continue playing with James, and take the mantle as the future of the franchise.

 

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-Kyle Randolph – Franchise Sports Media

@KyleRandolphFSM

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