With free agency fast approaching and the Los Angeles Lakers far from having a full roster, free agency talks are starting to heat up, though the Lakers cannot contact any player they would want to sign until June 30th at 9:01 PST. If presented with the option, the Lakers have enough cap space to offer a top free agent a max contract. However, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak voiced uncertainty on Thursday with whether the Lakers will be able to seriously compete as a destination spot for the most elite of this year’s free agent class. With certainty though, should the opportunity arise, Kupchak says the Lakers will be ready.
“We’re prepared,” Kupchak said with confidence after the NBA draft. “If any of those players do want to make a move, we’re prepared, and if we get word when we’re allowed to get word, we will go all out.”
Kupchak also pointed to there being only so much the Lakers can offer financially due to the CBA, and reiterated that for a max player, they’d have to be willing, in some cases to take “$30 [to] $35 million less to make a move.” Both the Miami Heat and New York Knicks can offer their sought after free agents more money and five year deals, as opposed to a four-year deal the Lakers could offer. Because of that, Kupchak also explained that although this year is a good free agency class, there may be better opportunities come next summer or even the following. The Lakers have structured their salary over the next couple years in such a way that they can have flexibility throughout the next couple years.
“The class is a large class, but in terms of the best of the best there’s only a couple, three,” Kupchak said at the Lakers practice facility. “Maybe it’s not as large as it might be the next year or the year after. And keeping that in mind, we structured our salary knowing that, hey, we might not get two or three guys, but we have enough room to get at least one. And if we don’t have one and we choose to, we can go down the road and have flexibility the next year and the year after that.”
Of course, Kobe Bryant is on a mission to be a championship contender immediately, which would mean big changes this off-season. Kupchak said he wouldn’t be at all surprised if Bryant took it upon himself to start recruiting players. ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported Wednesday that Bryant’s already been on the phone with Carmelo Anthony and plans to meet with him in the near future.
Kupchak declined to give up specifics on how the Lakers would be pitching free agents this year. Instead, insisting that a pitch differs for every player. Without mentioning any free agents, Kupchak let it be known that the Lakers door is wide open for both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and expects the upcoming free agency to be “chaos.” It always is.
VIDEO: Kobe Bryant Plans To Recruit Carmelo Anthony