The Los Angeles Lakers have Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James and Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Paul George on top of their free-agency wish list this summer. But if they are unable to convince James and George to move to Hollywood, the Lakers will have plenty of options, and it will all depend on the path that they will choose to take.
If they fail to land their top two targets, the Lakers could chase other top-tier free agents like New Orleans Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins and Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant. They could also decide to preserve their cap space for another year and pursue big-name free agents in 2019 when superstars like Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard become available.
If the Lakers decide to wait until 2019, Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report said that the Lakers should consider signing promising young players entering restricted free agency after this season. Houston Rockets center Clint Capela and Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon were mentioned as options, but Buckley said that going after Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker “makes the most sense” for Los Angeles.
Parker, who was the second overall pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014, recently returned to action after recovering from a second ACL reconstruction surgery. The Lakers could take advantage of the questions about Parker’s durability by signing him to a reasonable offer sheet Milwaukee might decline to match because of the fourth-year forward’s health issues.
Buckley said that Parker will bring more firepower to the Lakers on the offensive end of the floor, especially if he can stay healthy in the next several seasons. Barring another major injury, the former Duke University standout could eventually become one of the best scorers in the league.
Before hurting his knee last season, the former Duke University standout averaged 20.1 points on top of 6.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. In his first 13 games this season, Parker posted 11.3 points and 4.4 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game. While his numbers are down this season, Buckley is still convinced that he will be a “flashy free-agency addition” to the Lakers, which will make their young core significantly more attractive.
If the Lakers manage to sign Parker, and the 22-year-old avoids another major setback, Los Angeles will likely be a more appealing destination for free agents in 2019. This is the reason why Buckley thinks that taking a gamble on Parker makes a lot of sense for Los Angeles this summer.