Los Angeles Lakers Have No Choice but to Roll Big Dice in Free Agency

Carmelo Anthony may seem an odd fit next to Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James could be no more than a long shot to come to the West Coast, but what options do the Los Angeles Lakers really have other than to at least try casting their lot with the NBA's best free agents?

As if doing so were a bad thing. If you have cap space and even a puncher's chance of landing Anthony or James, you'd be stupid not to try.

But there's more at stake in these pursuits for the Lakers than there might be for, say, the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns or even the Cleveland Cavaliers. Those organizations have actual teams already in place. They should still be in the mix for no less than a playoff spot without the addition of another star, though they'd all obviously benefit tremendously from the services of LeBron and/or 'Melo.

The Lakers have no such luxury. Heck, they barely have enough players right now to field a proper starting lineup, especially now that Jodie Meeks, Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar have signed elsewhere. Kobe and Steve Nash are both coming off the most injury-riddled campaigns of their respective Hall of Fame careers; Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson are unknown quantities as rookies; and Robert Sacre is, well, Robert Sacre.

(Randle, by the way, remains unsigned, per the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan.)

That threadbare roster puts all the more pressure on general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss to cobble together a team that can compete for a playoff spot in the crowded Western Conference. They've already sunk $48.5 million over two years into Bryant's broken-down, soon-to-be-36-year-old body. It would behoove the Lakers, then, to maximize the remainder of Bryant's career.

For what it's worth, L.A.'s brass likes what it's seen so far from Bryant as he works his way back from a season-ending knee injury. "He ...

About the Author