Ranking Lakers' Top 8 Impending Free Agents

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The Lakers have been eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs for the second straight season. 

Heading into the offseason, there are many question marks for the Purple and Gold’s roster. Rob Pelinka and the front office have a ton of decisions to make, and it starts with who they re-sign from their own roster.

With that in mind, let’s break down what the free agent priority list should be for the Lakers.

1. LeBron James ($51.4M Player Option)

This is an obvious one if the Lakers plan to remain in championship contention. LeBron James is one of the all-time greats, and heading into his 22nd season, he is still playing at a high level. 

This season, James averaged 26/7/8 on efficient 54/41/75 shooting splits. His career in three-point percentage shows James’ ability to adapt his game as he ages while playing at an elite level.

Regardless of whether James opts in or out of his $51.4 million player option, the Lakers should offer a max extension.

2. D’Angelo Russell ($18.7M Player Option)

D’Angelo Russell is a polarizing player for fans of the Purple and Gold. In 2023, Russell struggled mightily against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. In the 2024 regular season, Russell bounced back, averaging 18/3/6 on 46/42/83 shooting splits. 

Russell was inconsistent in the playoffs against Denver this season. He played well in Game 2 and Game 4 but struggled in the rest of the series.

The 28-year-old point guard is an elite shooter and has great chemistry with James and Anthony Davis. 

Russell is likely to decline his player option, but LA should make a push to re-sign him. The LakeShow could use him as their point guard, and they can then prioritize adding a bench scorer who could see increased minutes in the playoffs if Russell is struggling.

3. Max Christie ($2.3M Qualifying Offer)

Max Christie is entering restricted free agency following his second season. Unfortunately, the coaching staff has utilized him incorrectly. Christie has the potential to be a high-quality 3&D player.

He is only 21 years old and is a very mature player. Whether they bring him back on the qualifying offer or re-sign him to a long-term deal, LA must bring him back.

4. Taurean Prince (free agent)

The perception of TP is a negative one for a lot of fans. Prince was signed last offseason to be a 3&D forward off the bench.

Darvin Ham opted to use Prince as a starter for 49 games before putting Rui Hachimura in the starting five. When Prince came off the bench, he played freely and began attacking the basket at times rather than standing in the corner the whole possession.

It’s not every day you have a solid 6’7, 3&D forward shooting nearly 40% from 3. Re-signing him to a bench role would be a good move.

5. Jaxson Hayes ($2.4M Player Option)

Jaxson Hayes had some ups and downs for the Lakers this season.

There were games where he showed flashes and was an impactful rotational player. When Christian Wood went down with an injury, Hayes proceeded to be solid as the primary backup big in the regular season.

However, if the front office is focused on competing for a title, they will need to upgrade their backup center spot to combat Nikola Jokic. The Lakers would benefit from Hayes being the third-string center but not the primary backup.

6. Spencer Dinwiddie (free agent)

Spencer Dinwiddie came to the Lakers midseason as a buyout market signing.

He was solid in his role in 28 regular season games, shooting 39% from three. Dinwiddie also played solid defense.

His return should be predicated on if the Lakers move Gabe Vincent in a trade. If Vincent is moved, Dinwiddie could be brought back as the backup PG.

If LA keeps Vincent, a role for Dinwiddie in the rotation would be tougher to find if they want to reach a championship-level.

7. Christian Wood ($3M player option) 

Christian Wood was considered a home run signing when they got him on a cheap deal last offseason.

Wood was known as a talented scorer and rebounder, but injuries and inconsistency on offense were the story for him this season. Wood shot 47% from the field and 31% from three, the lowest since his rookie year.

Like Hayes, he would be fine as a 3rd string center but can’t be the primary backup big

8. Cam Reddish ($2.4M Player Option)

Cam Reddish is another player who showed flashes but didn’t have a consistent season for the Lakers.

Injuries plagued his season as Reddish appeared in 48 games, starting in 26 of them. He played great defensively, but his offense was very inconsistent, with 39/34/76 shooting splits.

Having him back would be solid if he is utilized as a depth piece rather than a rotational player.

However, they can not allow him to take minutes away from Max Christie again.

Pelinka and the front office have a lot of work to do this offseason. There are many directions the team can take, and we will see how they attack it.

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