Los Angeles Lakers Poised to Be Major Players in 2014 Free-Agent Market

Returning to contention may not take as long as the Los Angeles Lakers thought.

Injuries and insufficient talent left the Lakers gasping for air in 2013-14, their playoff hopes dashed and their season lost. Things haven't looked as if they'll be much better next season. The Lakers have cap space, but patience rapidly became a formality. They would wait until next summer before burning holes in their pockets.

Turns out that stance didn't last long.

"We're prepared," general manager Mitch Kupchak said after the NBA draft, per ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin. "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."

All out? Does that mean what we think it means?

It absolutely does.

One lottery berth was enough for the Lakers. If given the opportunity, they can strike this offseason. And they will strike if they can—now, not later.


Already Flexible

Part of the draw to being active this offseason is the ease with which it becomes possible because it's already possible.

The Lakers still only have three players under guaranteed contract for next season—Kobe Bryant, Robert Sacre and Steve Nash. They'll have four players taking up space once they sign their seventh overall pick, Julius Randle (five if you include second-round pick Jordan Clarkson).

Ben McLemore was selected seventh overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2013. He earned almost $2.9 million last season, so if we roll with that number for Randle, the Lakers will have approximately $37.5 million devoted to five players. 

Kendall Marshall, Kent Bazemore and Ryan Kelly all have nonguaranteed pacts or are due a qualifying offer. The Lakers have the option of bringing all three back, or they could renounce their rights to open up more space.  Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers