The Los Angeles Lakers will have tough decisions to make this summer. Los Angeles will have to decide on the future of their own free agents despite the fact that they are expected to make a run at LeBron James and Paul George after the 2017-18 NBA season.
Key players like Isaiah Thomas, Julius Randle, Brook Lopez, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will also hit free agency in the offseason. Lopez and Randle might sign elsewhere if the Lakers successfully acquire James and George. If that happens, Jason Reed of LA Sports Hub said that Los Angeles will still have other frontcourt options.
Signing two superstars this summer will give the Lakers a hard time keeping Randle and Lopez because both players are not expected to take low-salary contracts. Reed said, though, that the Lakers can still improve their frontcourt by signing Greg Monroe and Nerlens Noel.
Noel is struggling this season, averaging just 4.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per game for the Dallas Mavericks. The 23-year-old center, who is playing in his fourth season in the league, is earning $4.19 million this season, which means he might be willing to accept a contract within this range this summer.
On the other hand, Monroe averaged 9.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in 18 games with the Boston Celtics. The 27-year-old center signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Celtics midway through the season. Like Noel, the former Georgetown standout might also be an affordable option for the Lakers in the offseason.
The situation could change, though, if the Lakers sign just one or miss out on their superstar targets this summer. They might eventually keep Randle for a long-term deal, and Lopez and Caldwell-Pope on one-year deals. Thomas’ case is a bit complicated at this point, and it will all depend on his health, preferred role, and salary demand.
Thomas, who was traded to the Lakers before the deadline after a tumultuous 15-game stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, showed progress in his first 17 games for the Lakers. He averaged 15.6 points and 5.0 assists, but the 29-year-old point guard suffered a setback, as he is now dealing with hip issues again.
According to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times, Thomas left for New York on Sunday to seek treatment for his ailing hip. There is no timetable for his return, and it remains to be seen whether he will consider going under the knife. He avoided surgery last year when he suffered a torn labrum in his right hip while playing for the Boston Celtics. His hip injury is expected to affect his value in free agency this summer.