After finishing with a disappointing record of 17-65, the Los Angeles Lakers, once again, failed to qualify for the NBA playoffs in the elite Western Conference. While this year was largely viewed as a Kobe Bryant send-off, it is still a season that Lakers’ fans are going to want to forget. Regardless of their poor season, the future is potentially bright for the Lakers. While nothing is confirmed, the latest rumors are saying that Oklahoma City Thunder star forward Kevin Durant could be taking his talents to Los Angeles this summer.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, both Durant and Russell Westbrook were being linked to the Lakers a few months ago. While Durant can join the Lakers this summer, Westbrook still has another year left on his contract with the Thunder. The initial report was that Durant would sign a 1-year deal with the Thunder, and then both players would join the Lakers for the 2017-2018 season. This remains a possibility, according to some insiders, but the Lakers likely want to be a competitive team next season, as reported by Bleacher Report. This could even involve dealing their first-round draft pick, according to Colin Cowherd.
“I’ve now been told by two separate sources, even if the Lakers get the No. 1 pick, they’re trading it. They don’t want to rebuild anymore. They want to get a star NBA player. They will call teams if they get the No. 1 pick and shop it around the league.”
While there is a chance that the Lakers win the upcoming NBA lottery, there is also a real possibility that they fall out of the top three and have to send their first-round draft pick to the Philadelphia 76ers. As ESPN notes, the Lakers have a 55.8 percent chance of keeping their first-round draft pick.
If the Lakers have any chance of luring Durant, that first-round draft pick could play a big part. If the Lakers land the No. 1 or No. 2 overall selection, they can draft Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. While both players are unproven rookies, they both have potential to make real differences in the NBA in the very near future. Combined with Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell, the Lakers could have a solid young core of players on their hands.
As Lakers Nation notes, the Lakers also have a ton of salary cap money to play with this summer.
“Finally, no NBA team has more money to spend on free agents than the Lakers this summer. In the world of professional sports, nothing resonates more with players than money. If the Lakers are willing to pay top dollar, or even overspend, it might wrestle free agents like Hassan Whiteside or Harrison Barnes away from their existing teams who will try to keep them but may have cap space constraints.”
If the Lakers decide to trade their first-round pick, they could acquire a star player for Durant to team up with. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Indiana Pacers forward Paul George is apparently a target for the Lakers’ front office, but it is unknown what it will take to acquire him.
The bottom line is that Durant wants a chance to win a championship. While the Thunder are competitive every single year, they have not been successful with the Durant and Westbrook duo. Currently tied 2-2 in their series with the San Antonio Spurs, the Thunder have a legitimate chance to advance to the Western Conference finals. If Stephen Curry does not return healthy, the Thunder have a real chance to upset them and advance to the NBA Finals. If the Thunder win the championship, Durant could be swayed to return to the Thunder. In all likelihood, the Thunder are not going to win the championship this season, and Durant will at least consider leaving Oklahoma City.
In the end, it is going to come down to money, salary cap space, and young talent. The Lakers, barring them losing their first-round draft pick to the 76ers, are going to have all of them.
With Kevin Durant’s free agency still a few months away, rumors will continue to come out linking him to the Los Angeles Lakers. Whether or not he decides to leave the Thunder remains to be seen, but the Lakers should have as good a chance as anyone to sign him.
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