Gauging the Buyout Market for the Lakers


After opting against making a trade prior to the deadline, the Lakers are left with few options to upgrade their roster.

Although they sit atop the Western Conference, they have holes to fill if they want to maximize their 2020 championship chances. Two areas stand out as needing improvement; backcourt depth and a capable wing defender.

With Darren Collison no longer a potential addition, the Lakers no longer have an obvious top target among current free agents. And while Collison would have been able to make the greatest impact on the team, there are still players available that could be difference makers for the Lakers.

Here are the best possible additions for the Lakers to explore:

1. Dion Waiters

Waiters was released by Memphis after being acquired in the Andre Iguodala trade. The move makes sense for the Grizz, as Waiters is of no use on their young (and thriving) roster. That doesn’t mean he can’t bring value to the right team.

While a true PG is the most preferred addition for L.A., Waiters offers more value than any of the PGs currently available. L.A. lacks offensive fire power outside of AD and LBJ, especially in terms of players who can create their own scoring opportunities. If you include Kuzma as someone who can create his own offense, which he can, you’re at three players total on the roster.

Insert Dion Waiters. Sure, his shot selection and decision making can be frustrating and downright confusing at times. His off-court activities have been interesting this year to say the least.

He’s worth the frustration for this team though. Adding another player who is going to break down defenses and create scoring opportunities for himself and others is desperately needed. He can get the team buckets when sharing the floor with the likes of KCP and Danny Green, who are only able to get buckets that are created for them in the half-court offense. Instead of the disappearing offense that shows up when LeBron checks out of a game, they would at least have an offensive weapon who is a proven scorer on the floor.

Not only is he a weapon without LBJ on the floor, he could also be an asset playing alongside him. Last season he hit 44.7% of his spot up opportunities, showing he can be effective without the ball in his hands. Overall, he is an incredibly streaky shooter, not an uncommon attribute among current Lakers. When he is hitting though, he becomes one of the most lethal shooters on the team.

His career 3PT% is 34.8, but is dragged down by some truly terrible 3PT shooting seasons. In the smallest of sample sizes this season (3 games), he’s hit 8 of 17 3PT attempts, good for a 47.1% clip. Obviously that isn’t sustainable, but it offers reason to believe he’s ready to have one of his solid shooting years.

He should be at the top of the Lakers’ current target list.

2. Trey Burke

Trey Burke was bought out by the 76ers in order to create a roster spot for incoming wing depth. Playing behind Ben Simmons made him expendable, as he was only seeing 13 minutes per night this year.

While he lacks the defensive production the Lakers value, he can bring the kind of instant offense they lack off the bench. His role would be as a spark plug for the second unit, allowing LeBron to take breathers without the team going into droughts offensively.

He isn’t the knockdown shooter Quinn Cook is (just 34.3% from 3 in his career), but he is much better off the dribble and attacking the basket. By replacing Rondo’s minutes with Burke, the second unit would become much better offensively. He has an aggressive mentality, which Rondo lacks far too often, that would put more stress on the defense.

Another positive in adding Burke is the pressure it would take off Kuzma as the only true offensive threat off the bench. Burke breaks defenses down and finishes the possession, whereas someone like Rajon Rondo breaks it down and looks for someone with an open look. Having another player that can create his own shot would be incredibly helpful for the Lakers.

If they feel they must add a more natural PG than Waiters, Trey Burke becomes the top available player.

3. Maurice Harkless

Harkless was moved from the Clippers to the Knicks in the Marcus Morris trade. On an expiring contract, he doesn’t seem to fit on the Knicks roster if they plan on giving young players heavy minutes down the stretch. A buyout is very possible here, and the Lakers would certainly be interested in his services if that happened.

He would offer L.A. much-needed wing depth and versatility off the bench. Harkless is a plus defender that matches up much better with scoring wings than Kyle Kuzma. Another plus is that he can easily play alongside any combination of Kuz, LeBron, and Anthony Davis.

Harkless has the ability to knock down the open shot on the offensive end (37% from 3 this season), but the real value he brings is on defense. He’d offer Frank Vogel a capable defender to put on opposing teams best wings for stretches of games, which would be especially valuable in playoff series. A small-ball lineup consisting of AD at the 5 with LBJ and Harkless on the wings provides an extremely switch friendly defensive group.

Maurice Harkless would be an especially great defensive asset in potential playoff matchups with teams such as the Clippers, Rockets, and Bucks. He can give quality minutes defending the top two players on any of those teams.

Kuzma has been far too inconsistent to be the only player coming off the bench that can play the 3 AND 4 positions. We knew his defense wouldn’t be good yet, but his inconsistencies on offense give even more reason to make sure you have another player in the rotation at that spot.

If L.A. opens up two roster spots, and Harkless is bought out, he should be scooped up in addition to whichever guard they wind up with.

After the above top priorities, here are some other notable potential additions that could improve the Lakers-

  • Reggie Jackson (unlikely to be available)
  • Evan Turner
  • Tyler Johnson
  • Jeff Green

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About Garrett Brooks

I am a Sport Management student, with experience in Basketball Training, Analytics, and events. I spend a lot of time in the Basketball world, and I hope to share some of my insights with others.

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