Bad news for the Lakers: They still owe the 76ers a top-three-protected first-rounder next year or the year after.
In other words, there’s no practical incentive for the Lakers to tank (again?), because they’ll probably lose their pick even if they try to keep it. Even the NBA’s worst team has a 35.7 percent chance of drafting outside the top three, and finishing with the league’s worst record is easier said than done (right, 76ers?).
So, the Lakers should try to get as good as possible as quickly as possible. That means pursuing veteran free agents – like DeMarre Carroll.
With his defense and versatility, one league exec estimated his next deal at more than $15 million per year. The Lakers, a source said, have big-time interest in Carroll.
There’s a long list of teams already prepared to pursue Carroll this summer, including the Celtics, Lakers and Pistons.
I like Carroll, whose 3-and-D skills have played a big part in the Hawks’ ascension. But $15 million pear year seems steep, even with the salary cap jumping in 2016.
He turns 29 this summer, and he needs quality teammates more than most. His skill is contributing amazingly without the ball and fitting with other good players. I don’t think the Lakers or Pistons have enough of those. The Celtics might not either, though they have the clearest path to acquiring them. If a team is paying Carroll $15 million per season, that leaves less flexibility to add other good players. The Hawks have built a strong group around him, because they pay Carroll just $2.5 million per season.
Carroll will get a big raise this summer, and he should. But losing teams should be cautious about trying to make him a centerpiece he’s not.