The start of NBA free agency is just around the corner and the Los Angeles Lakers will have a lot of tough decisions to make.
Chief among them is what they will do with Russell Westbrook, who to no surprise picked up his $47 million player option.
The Lakers would love to trade Westbrook but there may not be any suitors, so they are likely to at least start the season with him on the roster.
With that being the case, the Lakers will be forced to fill out the rest of their roster with minimum signings. They also have the taxpayer midlevel exception at their disposal, which will allow them to sign a player for around $6 million a year.
According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the Lakers are expected to target two-way wings with that midlevel exception:
With free agency less than 48 hours away, the Lakers are focusing on two-way wings, according to league sources. Most of the hypothetical scenarios for their taxpayer midlevel exception have been centered on signing a wing or two who could come in and start next to James and Davis.
Considering how much the Lakers lacked 3-and-D wings last season, it is good to see that they are at least trying to correct that.
Many have assumed that the Lakers’ midlevel exception would go towards retaining Malik Monk though after he had a breakout season in L.A. in 2021-22. Since the Lakers originally signed Monk on a minimum deal, the midlevel exception is now the most they can offer him.
If the Lakers are looking for wings with the midlevel exception though then they likely would lose Monk, and according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, he is looking for even more money anyway:
The Lakers would like to retain Malik Monk at their taxpayer mid-level, but Monk is also searching for more lucrative deals, sources said, despite telling Jovan Buha of The Athletic he’d be willing to return to Los Angeles on a discount.
This comes as a bit of a surprise considering Monk recently told Buha that he would be willing to take less money to stay with the Lakers, although this could just be a leverage play by his agency in order to get the Lakers to offer him the midlevel.
Monk earned the right to test free agency and see what’s out there after the season he just had, even if there is mutual interest in a return to L.A.
It will be interesting to see what the Lakers prioritize when push comes to shove, whether it be offering their midlevel to Monk or to a wing, which would mean Monk signing elsewhere.
Fizdale joins Jazz front office
Former Lakers assistant coach David Fizdale has found a new job in the NBA after reportedly being hired to be in the Utah Jazz’s front office.
Considering Fizdale saw what Monk was able to do up close last season, it will be interesting to see if he persuades the Jazz front office to get in the mix for the guard in free agency.
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