Behind the stellar play of superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers had the best record in the Western Conference before the season was put to a halt due to COVID-19. The Purple and Gold were 49-14 and had a five and a half-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers in the West standings before ultimately winning the NBA championship.
Both LeBron and Davis were in the MVP conversation, although James was garnering more MVP steam than AD. The King was averaging 25.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 10.6 assists before the games were suspended. He was also shooting 49.8 percent from the field, 34.9 percent from beyond the arc, and 69.7 percent from the free-throw line.
Meanwhile, in his first season with the Lakers, Davis was a monster on both sides of the floor. The Chicago native put up 26.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 2.4 blocks as LeBron’s “Robin.” Davis shot 51.1 percent from the floor, 33.5 percent from the 3-point line, and 84.5 percent from the charity stripe.
The Brow becomes an unrestricted free agent after declining his 2020-21 player option. However, no one in the league expects Davis to leave the Lakers. The seven-time All-Star is expected to sign a long-term deal with the Lake Show.
The Lakers missed out on Kawhi Leonard last summer in free agency and watched the two-time Finals MVP sign with the Clippers instead. General manager Rob Pelinka signed Danny Green, Quinn Cook, Jared Dudley, Avery Bradley, Troy Daniels, and DeMarcus Cousins after not being able to land Leonard.
Los Angeles was excited about the addition of Cousins since he played with Davis and Rajon Rondo in New Orleans. Unfortunately, Cousins tore his ACL in Las Vegas during a pick-up game and never suited up for the Lakers in 2019-20.
Pelinka had to sign a center before the 2019-20 season started after losing Cousins. The Lakers worked out Joakim Noah and Marreese Speights but wound up signing former L.A. big man Dwight Howard to a non-guaranteed deal. Howard was averaging 7.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks for the Lakers in 19.2 minutes per game off the bench before Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and Adam Silver suspended the league.
Dwight was loved by the fans again after being hated following his exit from the Lakers back in the summer of 2013. It was cool to see him produce for a winning team once more.
Pelinka and his staff will have to decide if they want to re-sign Howard, Dudley, Markieff Morris, and Dion Waiters, although the decisions on Morris and Waiters should be easy since Morris only played in eight games with the team and Waiters appeared in zero.
The Lakers will likely have a good amount of cap space to work with during free agency. Some fans of the team wanted Pelinka to go after All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, who could have become an unrestricted free agent if he declined his 2020-21 player option with the San Antonio Spurs. Of course, he opted in with the Spurs
While DeRozan would’ve been a good “third star” to pair next to LeBron and Davis, signing veteran point guard Goran Dragic makes more sense.
It was no doubt fun to watch James play the point guard position this season. It resulted in LeBron leading the NBA in assists per game.
However, the Lakers need a pure point guard to run the team, especially when LeBron goes to the bench. One of the reasons Los Angeles was trying to acquire former MVP Derrick Rose from the Detroit Pistons at the trade deadline was due to the team’s lack of a shot-creator from the perimeter when James wasn’t in the game.
To succeed around Davis and LeBron, two ball-dominant players, you have to be able to space the floor, shoot, and be effective without the ball.
Dragic can do all of those things. The lefty is a career 36.4 percent shooter from beyond the arc. Goran averaged 16.1 points for the Miami Heat this season before the hiatus, and he was great in the playoffs before his injury. Pat Riley might be willing to let Dragic walk in free agency since the team has rookie Kendrick Nunn flourishing as the starter. This is Dragic’s chance to sign with the Lakers, be a starter again, and possibly win an NBA title.
Dragic can create his shot off the dribble and run the Lakers’ offense when James isn’t out there. At this stage of his career, Rondo isn’t getting it done for L.A. He was putting up just 7.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in 48 games.
If the Lakers sign Dragic, they can have a starting lineup of Dragic, KCP (if they re-sign him), James, Davis, and JaVale McGee. That would be one of the fiercest starting fives in the NBA.
Dragic has career averages of 13.9 points and 4.8 assists.