If the regular season ended today, the Los Angeles Lakers would not be in the playoffs. While many expected there to be numerous teams between the No. 1 seed and the Lakers in the Western Conference coming into the 2018-19 campaign, there weren’t many people (if any at all) who didn’t think they would make the playoffs.
Of course, there is a caveat here: LeBron James missed over a month with a groin injury, and during that time, Los Angeles plummeted in the standings. When he went down, the Lakers were 20-14 and were contending for a top-five seed. They then proceeded to go 6-11 in his absence.
James is back now, but he and the Lakers have some work to do. His return also does not change the fact that Los Angeles’ record is what it is, and right now, both the Los Angeles Clippers and the Sacramento Kings are ahead of them for the eighth and final playoff spot.
After a dull trade deadline in which the Lakers failed to acquire Anthony Davis or do anything else of significance, they will now need to peruse the buyout market.
Let’s break down a few players they can add:
4. Frank Kaminsky
The Kaminsky era did not go very well in Charlotte, with the big man never really finding his footing with the Hornets.
However, there is one area where Kaminsky can help the Lakers: floor spacing.
Kaminsky is no Dirk Nowitzki, as he is just a lifetime 34.7 percent from three-point range, but he is certainly better than the likes of JaVale McGee and Tyson Chandler in that category.
The 25-year-old can actually play the role that Channing Frye did with the Cleveland Cavaliers, providing an outlet for LeBron on kickouts off of dribble drives.
If there is one player that Kaminsky can succeed with, it’s James.
3. Carmelo Anthony
Anthony is the guy the Lakers will probably bring aboard, seeing as how he and LeBron are good buddies and there has been talk about Carmelo landing in Los Angeles for years now.
The 34-year-old began the season with the Houston Rockets, but things did not exactly work out, resulting in the Rockets essentially exiling him and then trading him to the Chicago Bulls, where he was bought out.
So, does Anthony add anything of value to the Lakers?
Well, kind of.
Los Angeles actually could use a forward who can spread the floor off the bench, and while Anthony is not a knockdown three-point shooter, he is definitely a threat from the perimeter and can make defenses work.
The problem is that Melo wouldn’t exactly help the Lakers defensively, and opposing teams can take advantage of him on that end, but he could be effective as a microwave scorer in spot minutes.
2. Anthony Tolliver
Imagine a world where Anthony Tolliver is a better option than Carmelo Anthony.
Well, that is the world in which we live in 2019.
Sticking with the theme of floor-spacing bigs, Tolliver would actually be a terrific pickup for the Lakers, as he is a lifetime 37.6 percent shooter from three-point range, which is the exact percentage he is shooting with the Minnesota Timberwolves this season.
Heck, last year, Tolliver connected on 43.6 percent of his triples.
Now, Tolliver can’t exactly do much else, but he would fit perfectly with LeBron, an outstanding facilitator who makes a living off of slashing into the paint and then finding open shooters.
While Tolliver is primarily a power forward, he can also moonlight as a center in small-ball lineups, which would give Los Angeles some really nice versatility and a change of pace from guys like McGee and Chandler.
1. Markieff Morris
That brings us to the best possible pickup for the Lakers, health permitting.
The disclaimer here is that Morris has been sidelined for over a month with a neck injury and is seeking a second opinion on the issue, which is almost never good.
However, if healthy, Morris is quite arguably the best player on the buyout market, and the Lakers can basically sign him to do everything Carmelo can do and more.
Unlike Anthony, Morris can at least play some defense, possessing the ability to play both the 4 and the 5 to guard multiple positions and having enough footspeed to adequately defend pick-and-rolls.
The 29-year-old has never been a deadeye three-point shooter, connecting on 33.8 percent of his attempts from distance over the course of his career, but that is still good enough to be a viable threat from downtown and one that defenses have to at least respect.
Morris can also create his own shot off the bench, which is something that no one on LA’s pine other than Lance Stephenson can really do.