With the NBA Draft over, a coaching search expected to conclude shortly and free agency kicking off on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers are in for a rather busy month.
On Monday, the Lakers introduce the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Julius Randle, to the Los Angeles media. Although Randle expects to be a fixture in a Lakers' jersey for quite some time, the newest draftee expressed doubt over whether his foot would require surgery before the season in a conference call following the draft.
On draft night, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak explained that the team did not expect Randle to require surgery, and the forward expressed optimism about being ready for training camp even if he did ultimately go under the knife.
Along with Randle, the Lakers also drafted Jordan Clarkson, a 6-foot 5-inch point guard out of Missouri. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, the Lakers paid $1.8 million to buy the no. 46 pick from the Washington Wizards in order to draft Clarkson.
Clarkson transferred to Missouri from Tulsa for his junior season. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, Clarkson earned Conference USA All-Freshman honors and Conference USA First Team honors, respectively. In his junior season, the San Antonio native was selected to Second-Team All-SEC.
With Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre all possessing guaranteed contracts, the Lakers' roster is essentially up to six players. Kendall Marshall expects to receive a qualifying offer from the team, Randle makes five and the price paid for Clarkson hints that he should be with the team on opening night.
Also, the Lakers picked up undrafted free agent DeAndre Kane out of Iowa State for their NBA Summer League team, but his addition to the Lakers' regular season roster is a stretch at the moment.
In a somewhat surprising bit of news, ESPN Los Angeles also reported that the Lakers will not make a qualifying offer to Kent Bazemore, so Bazemore will not become a restricted free agent. The decision is reportedly based on maintaining financial flexibility to attract the top free agents, but Bazemore may yet end up on the Lakers by opening night.
With free agency set to start on July 1, the Lakers are expected to meet with Carmelo Anthony in the opening week. Anthony will meet with several other teams including the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls.
With LeBron James also on the market, the Lakers are also expected to attempt to woo the most coveted player in the league, but capturing either of those two top free agents appears to be a long shot.
Another obvious name linked with the Lakers is two-time champion power forward Pau Gasol. Should the Lakers sign either James or Anthony, Gasol would become a likelier catch. The New York Knicks with Derek Fisher as coach and Phil Jackson as president are expected to make a run at the 7-footer, but Gasol would have to take a serious pay cut to go to New York. With Dallas also showing interest, Gasol has options. However, if the Spaniard wants to go to any team resembling a contender, he will need to take significantly less than the $19.3 million he made during the 2013-14 season.
Should the Lakers fail to land either James or Anthony, ESPN Los Angles reported that the team is interested in attracting former Laker forward Trevor Ariza, as well as Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, Detroit Pistons center Greg Monroe and Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye.
Along with the upcoming free agent frenzy, the Lakers are also expected to announce a new coach shortly. When asked about the coaching search on draft night, Kupchak said the team would name a coach "probably in the beginning of July." Byron Scott appears to be the frontrunner at the moment, as he had interviewed with the team multiple times.
With free agency and a new coach on the horizon, the Los Angeles Lakers expect to have an extremely busy and active month of July.