The Los Angeles Lakers will have the option of addressing several of their roster needs either in the NBA draft or free agency. While the team could use help at every position, the one that sticks out like a thumb is the small forward spot. Wesley Johnson has been tasked with the starting position for the last two years. This is a team that once sported Trevor Ariza and Metta World Peace as their starter at the three. Clearly, the team values athleticism and a strong defensive-minded player at this spot. The team’s mindset should be no different as they view the market for potential players.
On the other side of the NBA country, the Atlanta Hawks are enjoying their most successful season in franchise history, notching 60 wins, capturing the top-spot in the Eastern Conference, and they seem poised to make a run at the NBA Finals. Great coaching by NBA Coach of the Year, Mike Budenholzer and collective efforts on defense and offense have been their staple of success. One of the catalysts to their historic run has been DeMarre Carroll.
LakerNation reporter Ryan Ward discussed the team’s pursuit of the Hawks’ swingman:
Although the team is currently concentrating on draft prospects and hoping for the best in the draft lottery, Los Angeles will also look to make a splash in free agency. One of many players the Lakers may pursue is small forward DeMarre Carroll, according to Shaun Powell of NBA.com.
Much of Carroll’s career has been spent as a journeyman since his days attending the University of Missouri. Drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies, he’s been a member of the Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, and Houston Rockets. He has become one of the more solid options in a league where the value of a defensive-minded small forward is at an all-time high.
Carroll’s 12.5 points and 5.3 rebounds were a career-high this year. On top of his solid season, he’s followed up the improvement by being, arguably, Atlanta’s best player in the playoffs. He is sporting averages of 18.9 points and 6.5 rebounds, while shooting a blistering 56% from the field. This continued effort means big things for the Hawks as they move forward.
Carroll only signed a two-year deal with Atlanta, worth $5 million. He is sure to get a much larger payday this off-season, entering unrestricted free agency. The price tag will rise for Carroll’s services, and the Lakers will definitely be in the number of payers. The team will have money to spend, and what Carroll can bring to the team is much-needed.
Without a small forward, he would immediately become the team’s starter. Carroll also would be the team’s best defender. Despite being 28-years old, he is surely in the upside of his career and at the peak of his contributing efforts. With the Lakers looking to at least get back competitive next year, a veteran of his stature would be a good addition alongside Kobe Bryant in his last year.
The impeding cap rise could turn a Carroll deal into a steal. The Lakers could easily offer him a contract in the range of about $6-$8 million per season. This leaves the team with more money to spend on other pieces of the roster. Of course the success of the Hawks would be awfully tough for the Lakers to counter, but when there are big bucks involved, players are certainly willing to listen. Besides, the Lakers have to start winning soon, and what better way to ignite the fire than bringing in winners.
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