The Los Angeles Lakers were unable to land superstar Anthony Davis before Thursday’s trade deadline, so they must now focus on improving the team for a playoff push by making use of the buyout market.
After trading Svi Mykhailiuk, Micheal Beasley, and Ivica Zubac for Reggie Bullock and Mike Muscala, the Lakers have strengthened their rotation and opened up a roster spot.
As soon as that happened, Carmelo Anthony was linked to the team.
The Lakers plan to evaluate the full buyout market once it takes shape, but Carmelo Anthony is expected to be among the considerations too, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2019
Anthony is certainly an option, and his isolation scoring ability could be useful to LA’s bench. However, their are better and more consistent players available, although the Lakers will have to act fast if they hope to sign one of them.
At 27-27 and 2.5 games out of playoff spot, LA has some serious work to do, and could certainly use a bench player who can contribute.
Here are some potential targets for the Lakers.
4. Milos Teodosic
Teodosic is a 31-year-old point guard in his second NBA season. He impressed in 2017-2018 with the Clippers, averaging 9.5 points and 4.6 assists in 25 minutes per game.
He has played in only 15 games this season and was released by Los Angeles on Thursday.
His solid three-point shooting and excellent passing skills make him an intriguing option for a contender. The Lakers’ third-string PG is Alex Caruso, and Teodosic would be an upgrade.
The problem would be finding playing time behind Lonzo Ball and Rajon Rondo. He wouldn’t be a franchise-changing addition, but Teodosic would improve LA’s depth, which is crucial in the postseason.
Even with LeBron James, the Lakers won’t be beating any of the NBA’s top teams by overpowering them with stars.
Their depth is what is going to win them games, and Teodosic would help.
3. Enes Kanter
With Zubac gone, the Lakers now have Tyson Chandler, JaVale McGee, and Mo Wagner as their centers.
Wagner plays fewer than seven minutes per contest, so he likely won’t be part of the playoff rotation.
Kanter is basically a guaranteed double-double, with a better offensive game than Chandler or McGee.
He would certainly have a role in the postseason, and would likely replace McGee as the starting big man. Kanter would improve LA’s starting lineup and force Chandler and McGee further down in the rotation, improving depth.
Kanter also has a reputation as a physical “tough guy”, which is very useful in the playoffs.
2. Wesley Matthews
Reports state that Matthews’ most likely destination is the Indiana Pacers, but the Lakers should do everything they can to sign him.
Matthews would give Los Angeles another good wing on their bench who can shoot, pass, and defend. Currently, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Josh Hart are battling for the starting shooting guard spot, and Matthews could potentially beat out both in the starting lineup.
On six attempts per game with the Dallas Mavericks this season, Matthews shot 38% from beyond the arc.
LeBron James needs as much floor spacing as possible around him, and Matthews is the perfect addition to help with that.
1. Wayne Ellington
If Matthews ends up joining the Pacers as expected, Ellington would be a fine consolation prize.
In 25 games with the Miami Heat this season, he averaged 8.4 points on 38% shooting. In 2017-2018, he made 227 three-point shots, breaking the Miami franchise record. He is a capable scorer in isolation and can knock down the catch-and-shoot three-ball. His defense and passing is decent as well.
Ellington is pretty much exactly what Los Angeles should be looking for in a free agent signing at this point in the season, and could play an important role for the team in the postseason.
Carmelo Anthony will garner the most headlines, and could very well be a good addition for the Lakers, but there are plenty of other options on the market as well.
Playing in California, with LeBron James, and competing for a playoff spot will be attractive to many free agents, and should allow Los Angeles to sign a good player as they begin the stretch run of this season.