2015 Los Angeles Lakers

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Los Angeles Lakers (Last Year: 21-61)

2015-16 Projected Depth Chart:

C: *Jordan Hill/Robert Sacre

PF: #Ed Davis/Julius Randle/Ryan Kelly

SF: Nick Young

SG: Kobe Bryant/Jabari Brown/^Vander Blue

PG: Jordan Clarkson

NBA Free Agents:

*C-Jordan Hill (TO)

#PF-Ed Davis (PO)

^G-Vander Blue (RFA)

PF-Carlos Boozer (UFA)

SF-Wesley Johnson (UFA)

PG-Jeremy Lin (UFA)

SG-Wayne Ellington (UFA)

PG-Ronnie Price (UFA)

2015-16 Team Salary: Approximately $37 million

NBA Offseason Team Needs:

1. Center: Luckily for the Lakers, they moved up in the draft lottery and landed one of the coveted top-two picks. Assuming the Lakers hang on to the No. 2 pick, they will come away with a young big man of the future with either Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor of Duke. Most mock-draft experts, including myself, are projecting Towns to go No. 1 to Minnesota, which means Okafor falls into the Lakers’ lap. Okafor is a true low post scorer who will require a lot of attention inside, which could end up being Kobe Bryant’s best friend.

2. An Established Second Banana: This is a franchise that doesn’t accept rebuilding years, so management needs to make a major splash this summer. With a ton of cap space available, the Lakers should target some of the top names in free agency to help find Bryant an established wingman. Names like Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo are already being floated around, and both would help plug holes. The uncertainty of Bryant’s future could be a deterrent for a major free agent signing a long-term deal in L.A.

3. A Healthy Kobe: This could end up being the final year of Kobe Bryant’s extraordinary NBA career, and while the franchise has an uphill climb to become a playoff-caliber club next year, that won’t be possible unless Kobe is healthy. He will be 37 years old once the season tips, so expecting the Kobe Bryant of the early 2000s would be a laughable mistake. Still, a healthy Kobe is essential for this franchise to dig itself out of being one of the cellar dwellars of the NBA.

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