Summer agenda: L.A. Lakers

·The Vertical

The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a 20-year executive with the Nets, examines the off-season plans for teams that didn’t make the postseason.

THE PLAN GOING FORWARD
Realistic goals
A big market, cap space and a young core can set you up for success or unrealistic expectations.

In the case of the Lakers, who have not made the playoffs since 2012-13, baby steps were taken this year and a foundation was put in the place. What the Lakers do going forward will be the hard part.

Along with a little progress also come those big expectations. Although the Lakers are positioned with cap space in July, trying to hit a home run in free agency would be the wrong approach. Lakers ownership needs to realize that this team is not close to being a playoff contender and building the team without skipping steps is the best approach.

Fate of Byron Scott

Is Byron Scott the right coach to lead the Lakers? (AP)
Is Byron Scott the right coach to lead the Lakers? (AP)

The rotating door of head coaches might make headlines and gain publicity, but it has a negative effect in the locker room and in free agency. In the case of the Lakers, ownership needs to figure out whether Byron Scott is the right man to lead them.

Similar to college recruiting, free agents who commit do not want to be sold on one thing and then have a coach fired or leave for another job in less than a year.

With that said, one could make the argument that if the Lakers do not address their coaching situation, the franchise will be facing the same question next year.

Sell the on-court product
When Lakers management sits with prospective free agents this summer, the selling point needs to focus on the on-court product. As we saw last July, selling the L.A. brand might get your foot in the door with a player, but it does not have the appeal it once had.

The allure of Los Angeles is secondary, and players want to know the basketball plan now and in the future.

All about timing
The Lakers’ cap space this summer will depend on how they time the signings of their own first-round pick (if they retain it) and restricted free agent Jordan Clarkson.

Because of Clarkson’s low cap hold ($2.75 million), the Lakers will be able to go free-agent shopping and then sign the second-year player. The “Arenas provision” will protect the Lakers if Clarkson were to entertain an offer sheet with another team.

Don’t be afraid to roll over cap space
Even with $57 million in their pocket, the Lakers are not pressed to spend every cent this summer.

With a rising cap that is projected to be $109 million in 2017 and a star-studded free-agent class, Los Angeles would be wise to use this summer as a stepping-stone for next year.

Make the kids earn it

D'Angelo Russell is a key piece of the Lakers' future. (Getty Images)
D'Angelo Russell is a key piece of the Lakers' future. (Getty Images)

The core of the Lakers’ franchise – for better or worse – is made up of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle. Three of the four were first-round picks, with Russell and Randle selected in the lottery the past two seasons. Being selected in the first round might earn you financial security, but it shouldn’t merit automatic playing time.

All four players have had positive moments, but they have also shown at times that they were not ready to lead the organization. That will come with a summer of development, with their roles being more clearly defined and a better supporting cast.

TEAM NEEDS
The direction the Lakers go with their coaching situation will dictate the process come July.

Even with Scott’s job in a state of flux, the Lakers’ priorities this summer should be shoring up the starting small forward and center positions. Both spots are strengths in the free-agent market, and Los Angeles should be able to capitalize.

The good news is that point guard is not a position of need with Russell. However, Los Angeles will need to find a reliable veteran point guard to continue the tutelage of Russell.

SUMMER CAP BREAKDOWN

Guaranteed

2016-17

Insider info

1. Lou Williams

$7,000,000

None

2. Nick Young

$5,443,918

None

3. D'Angelo Russell

$5,332,800

None

4. Julius Randle

$3,267,120

None

5. Larry Nance Jr.      

$1,207,680

None

6. Anthony Brown

$874,636

None

Non/partial

 

 

None

 

 

FA cap holds

 

 

7. Jordan Clarkson

$2,725,003

Restricted/early Bird rights

8. Roy Hibbert

$23,388,324

Full Bird rights

9. Ryan Kelly

$3,276,075

Restricted/full Bird rights

10 .Robert Sacre

$980,431

Full Bird rights

11 .Tarik Black

$1,180,431

Restricted/early Bird rights

12. Metta World Peace

$980,431

Non-Bird rights

13. Marcelo Huertas

$1,074,636

Restricted/non-Bird rights

14. Brandon Bass

$3,600,000

Non-Bird rights

First-round hold
Pick No. 2: $4,401,400

CAP PICTURE

Guaranteed

$23,126,154

Non/partial

$0

FA cap holds

$33,605,331

First-round holds

$4,401,400

Minimum holds

$0

Dead money

$0

Total

$64,732,885

Salary cap

$92,000,000

Cap space

$27,267,115

PROJECTED CAP SPACE
Currently projected to have $27 million in room, the Lakers cap space could soar to $57 million once it releases its free-agent cap holds. Los Angeles will have plenty of room to be a major free-agent player and also have the flexibility to bring back Clarkson.

JUNE DRAFT PICKS
First round: Own or to Philadelphia (Nos. 4-30)

Second round: Own

FUTURE PICKS
First round
2017: Own (Nos. 1-3) or to Philadelphia (Nos. 4-30).

2018: Own or to Philadelphia (unprotected); or to Orlando (Nos. 6-30) if the 76ers have the Lakers’ first in 2016.

2019: Own or to Orlando (unprotected) if Philadelphia receives a 2017 first from the Lakers.

Own all first-round picks starting in 2020.

Key rights to: none

PREVIOUS SUMMER AGENDAS: Nets | Pelicans | Timberwolves

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