5 Potential Stars Los Angeles Lakers Can Chase During 2015 Free Agency

Summer can't come soon enough for the Los Angeles Lakers faithful. Big changes are in store for a franchise that's produced just 13 wins in its first 47 games.

Whether the Lakers are able to sign a big-time free agent in the offseason is up for debate. And whether they make a big splash on an older, established veteran or pay top dollar for a younger star looking for a change of scenery is also open for discussion.

There are so many variables yet to be decided, and all of them would alter how the Lakers view the free-agent landscape. Assuming that Kobe Bryant is rehabilitating nicely from torn rotator cuff surgery in January and on track to return for a farewell campaign, the Lakers will likely have at least $20 million to play with on the free-agency market.

Bryant and the Lakers today find themselves in the midst of a rebuilding process that may take several seasons to solidify. They have a better chance of signing players this offseason who are upper echelon but not not necessarily in the elite class of stars such as LaMarcus Aldridge, LeBron James, Kevin Love or Marc Gasol.

Ideally, the Lakers finish the regular season as one of the league’s five worst teams. That would guarantee them a top-5 pick in the June NBA draft. That selection, in turn, could turn out to be Duke center Jahlil Okafor, the 6’11”, 270-pound freshman phenom with the NBA-ready skill set. They also have a late first-round pick (probably around 25th) acquired in the preseason trade with the Houston Rockets that brought Jeremy Lin to Los Angeles.

Add in Lakers rookie forward Julius Randle, former Missouri Tiger guard Jordan Clarkson and power forward Tarik Black, and one can begin to see a legitimate foundation with a solid future.

While the league cap space will increase modestly from $63.2 million this year to over $66 million in 2015-16, the big money awaits in 2016-17 when revenues from the huge ne...

About the Author