The Los Angeles Lakers are rumored to be planning a hard run at Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler this offseason, and the team may actually have another big name in mind with what will likely be Kobe Bryant’s last chance at a title.
Sources have indicated that the Lakers are coveting Butler, this season’s Most Improved Player award recipient, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
Shams Charania of RealGM reported that the Lakers are among the most serious suitors for Butler:
“Outside of Chicago, teams are already preparing possible maximum-salary offer sheets for Butler in free agency, including the Los Angeles Lakers as one of several expected suitors, league sources told RealGM. Even Butler’s college area connection, the Milwaukee Bucks, will have cap space in July. Around the league, there’s a question: How will Chicago handle the inevitable max out of a star player not named Rose?”
But getting Jimmy Butler could be difficult. Because he is a restricted free agent, the Bulls would be able to keep him as long as they’re willing to match the Lakers’ offer. It could be worth it to the Lakers, who are rumored to be looking for a replacement for Kobe Bryant and someone to lead the team’s young core in the post-Kobe era.
Another potential target appears to be part of those plans. There are rumors that the Chicago Bulls are interested in DeMarre Carroll, who, at age 28, just had a breakout year with 12.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Hawks.
Shaun Powell of NBA.com believes that Los Angeles Lakers could be in the bidding.
“Carroll will be in demand and has raised his value to the point where he could triple his salary come 2015-16. But he’s a late-bloomer (28 years old) who doesn’t have a long track record for playing at this level. Interested teams must decide whether Carroll’s best years are indeed ahead of him, or if he’s a role player taking advantage of the Hawks’ system. With the salary cap expected to jump, the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks or Dallas Mavericks (among other teams) could force the Hawks’ financial hand.”
Whatever the Los Angeles Lakers do, rumors indicate that the team is starting to look aggressively at not only this year but the future. While there is some sense of desperation given that it’s likely the end of the line for Kobe Bryant, the team’s management has said in the past that they won’t mortgage the future just to make a one-year run. Targeting Jimmy Butler and DeMarre Carroll would seem to bolster that long-term thinking.
[Image via Getty Images]