Photo courtesy of USA Today

The fanfare was at an all-time high when LeBron James donned the Lakers’ purple and gold. But in their lost season, James suffered a serious injury for the first time, Lonzo Ball again got hurt, a blood clot was discovered in Brandon Ingram, the Anthony Davis trade fiasco occurred and Magic Johnson stepped down. Other than this, it was a great year for the Lakers. Truth be told, this was never a championship season. However, many still anticipated the Lakers would be in the playoffs.

That’s because last year was the set-up. With money to spend and pressure to win, the Lakers worked hard trying to recruit a top free agent. But, after all that’s happened, free agents might now be turned off. Looking at the landscape of free agency, there are three players just a notch below KD Klay, Kyrie Irving, KlayThompson and Kawhi Leonard. Hopefully, the Lakers pay attention to last year’s mistake and sign DeMarcus Cousins. He probably won’t get a max deal following another injury, but the Lakers are desperate to get a second superstar and are likely willing to beat Cousins’ best offer on the market this summer.

Before agreeing to join the Golden State Warriors, Cousins gave the Los Angeles Lakers an opportunity to sign him. But, the Lakers were scared off by his injury. Cousins is one of the best centers in the league and can actually space the floor, having the ability to knock down 3’s. LeBron desperately needs players who can work off his drive-and-kick game. He’ll have a whole off-season to rebound from a groin injury an eye a bigger contract in a couple of years.

Charlotte is not a team that can contend for a title and Kemba Walker is a free agent. The Lakers seem to be a couple of players away from being contenders. Especially if Golden State loses Durant or Thompson. Walker, a three-time All-Star, is coming off averaging 25.6 points per game and 6 assists per game. Scoring is one of Walker’s best traits and he can take pressure off James for the scoring lead. He competed in the 3-point contest and while not his best attribute, he can get hot from the distance. He’s a crafty guard who can create his own shot and has one of the nastiest crossovers in the league.

The Lakers need a shutdown perimeter defender to hold down elite guards and wings, especially come playoff time. This is when Jimmy Butler comes into play. He’s been named to the NBA All-Defensive Team four times. His defensive presence also raises the edge of the younger players. Brandon Ingram has the potential to become a defensive stopper on the wing. Butler, Ingram and James would be interchangeable at the wing. One thing is for certain, the Lakers must sign a star this off-season for them to become any kind of success. 

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