Realistic 2016 Free-Agency Targets for the LA Lakers

As the NBA Finals progress, fans of the Los Angeles Lakers are left to ponder their own path back to basketball greatness.

Summer free agency is one of the major tools for betterment, and L.A. will have a war chest overflowing with spoils to spend.

“The Lakers project to have about $55 million to spend on free agents,” the Los Angeles Times’ Mike Bresnahan writes. “That number will increase if veteran Brandon Bass declines a $3.1 million player option, as expected.”

Just because the money’s there, however, doesn’t mean prognosticators should abandon realism and assume that the league’s biggest stars will hop on board. It also doesn’t mean there will be a lack of trying when it comes to the Kevin Durant sweepstakes. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Lakers are expected to be in the hunt:

But Durant could sign a two-year deal with a player’s option in the second year to stay with his beloved Oklahoma City Thunder, allowing him to tap into even greater riches during the summer of 2017, when the league’s cap jumps once again (and his partner in basketball excellence, Russell Westbrook, is also a free agent).

Regardless, in what pipe dream does a guy yearning for his first ring jump into bed with a team that finished dead last in the West? Hence the question of what defines reality versus fantasy, and how the Lakers sell other meaningful targets on their rebuild.

The X-factor is clearly the team’s recently hired head coach, Luke Walton, so new that he’s still in the hunt for more bling as the lead assistant for the Golden State Warriors. Players around the league know Walton’s rep—a charismatic dude not long removed from his own hard-court days, a guy who ran up an impressive 39-4 record when standing in for an ailing Steve Kerr.

Walton represents the future, and f...

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