The Los Angeles Lakers’ main priority going into the 2013 offseason was to re-sign free agent Dwight Howard. After weeks of rumors and speculation, the Lakers lost their top target as Howard chose to sign with the Houston Rockets. While the fans and the basketball community took time to reflect on that decision, the Lakers’ front office turned to their “Plan B.”
Regardless of whether Dwight re-signed with the Lakers or not, the franchise is very financially limited with what they can offer free agents due to new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) rules and regulations. The Lakers only had the mini mid-level and veteran minimum contracts to offer free agents to create a roster. Further, the Lakers cannot get a free agent via a sign-and-trade due to the fact that they are above the tax apron.
However, the Lakers were still able to make solid signings thus far in the 2013 offseason. They used their mini-MLE on Chris Kaman and signed Jordan Farmar, Wesley Johnson and Nick Young on minimum deals. Therefore, the Lakers still have the cap freedom they need in order to make a splash in the 2014 offseason.
We asked some of our Lakers Nation writers to grade the Lakers’ offseason signings so far, and here is what they had to say:
Daniel Buerge (@danielbuergeLA): It’s hard to give the Lakers a strong grade since they lost their one major free agent (Dwight Howard). Plus, they also lost Earl Clark, who may not be a major player or factor in the team’s success, but those were two key players to last season’s team that have now left.
So for that, I have to give the Lakers a C-. And, in reality, the only reason I’m not giving them a failing grade is because I wasn’t expecting Howard to return in the first place. Still, when you’re the Lakers and you’re unable to bring back your own free agents, it’s time to do a little soul searching and see if you can fix the problems.
Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): I’d have to give the Lakers’ front office a B. Why? Well, they didn’t accomplish their “number one priority” of re-signing Dwight Howard, so they take a hit there. That automatically shifted them into their “Plan B” strategy. Since then, the new goal was to put the best possible team on the court for the least possible amount of money, in anticipation of a huge 2014 offseason.
Many aren’t happy with the Lakers’ choice to amnesty Metta World Peace, but it leaves the team with approximately just $7 million in salary over the cap and saves them significantly in luxury taxes. Now, if they can somehow dump that excess $7 million soon and get under the salary cap (perhaps by trading a couple players in favor of upcoming draft picks), they’ll avoid the “repeat offender” tax in forthcoming years, which would further improve their future financial flexibility. In this sense, the move would be completely justified.
That’s all speculation until they indeed do get under the cap, so that move is a wash for now and can’t be judged either way. However, Lakers’ management has managed to sign four possibly key pieces for next season for cheap, in the forms of Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Jordan Farmar, and Wesley Johnson. Essentially, they’ve added solid pieces in a variety of areas, while managing to infuse some youth into the roster as well.
All things considered, management has done quite an impressive job in terms of luring some decent pickups to the Lakers at a discount rate, at a time where many thought the lure of being a Laker had finally faded.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): After being unable to re-sign Dwight Howard to a long-term deal, the Los Angeles Lakers have had to explore other options in NBA free agency.
In my opinion, the options have been limited at best with what the team could offer, but the Lakers have done much better than expected.
Although no big names are heading to Los Angeles, the team gets a B- grade with the signings of Nick Young, Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar and Wesley Johnson.
The team was able to bring in Kaman, Farmar and Johnson on one-year deals while locking up arguably the most talented player, Young, for one-year with a second-year option. Only time will tell if the Lakers will be able to hold onto Young after next season, but the acquisition was promising in terms potentially turning into a long-term situation.
So far, the additions to the squad have been decent. The team isn’t done wheeling and dealing with another player or two potentially headed to Los Angeles. Lamar Odom is rumored to still be on the short list of players the team is considering signing, but little news has surfaced over the past week or so about the two-time NBA champion and his intentions.
Elizabeth Benson (@gobibs): This offseason is turning out to be just as crucial as the 2014 offseason is going to be for the Lakers and the future success of their franchise. Yes, they failed to re-sign their top target in free agency, but the Lakers managed to make very solid signings that are valuable for the cost and won’t interfere with the cap flexibility they want in the 2014 offseason, when the free agent market could potentially be filled with superstars.
Losing Howard, Earl Clark and Metta World Peace (via amnesty), the Lakers seemed as though they would be down for the count, (at least for a season). However, signing Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar, Wes Johnson and Nick Young gave the Lakers a bit of life for the upcoming season.
Do these additions mean a date in the NBA Finals? No, most likely not. However, it is going to be refreshing to watch a team consisted of players who all WANT to be there in a purple and gold uniform. The Lakers did acquire some youth, speed and athleticism in the majority of these signings. I think the offense will be more fluid, but team defense will still be a must.
All in all, I give the Lakers’ offseason signings so far a B-.
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