Now comes the really hard part.
Free agency begins Monday at 9:01 p.m. Pacific time, the beginning of an incredible period of turnover for a team that went 27-55 last season.
Pau Gasol will be a free agent after making $19 million last season,
Gasol has said numerous times that his main priority is playing for a title-contending team. He will meet with Oklahoma City, Chicago and
The Lakers will also try to meet with
None of it will be easy.
James is considered a longshot to join the Lakers. Anthony is only slightly less of a longshot.
But the Lakers hope they can somehow reverse their failed pursuit last season of
"We're still going to pitch that this is a championship franchise and that's going to be our goal," Lakers General Manager
If the Lakers fail to land James or Anthony, they will not go on a spending spree for second-tier free agents such as
To maintain their salary-cap flexibility, the Lakers will consider Deng and Lowry only if they take a sensible rate over a relatively short period — one or two years at the most.
More likely, the Lakers will target third-tier free agents such as
Ariza was with the Lakers when they won the 2009 championship but signed a free-agent deal with Houston shortly thereafter.
The Lakers have already committed more than $37 million of next season's projected $63-million salary cap to Bryant,
The Lakers also have two point guards with nonguaranteed contracts —