The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to retool their roster after falling short in their title defense, bowing out in the first round of the 2021 playoffs. Injuries played a significant role in their early playoff exit and the team can't do much other than wish for better luck next year in that regard. But this year's team was flawed. The spacing wasn't as good as it was during their 2020 championship run, and quality three-point shooters are a must when the offense runs through LeBron James and Anthony Davis. That will be the No. 1 priority heading into this year's edition of free agency.
It is, of course, tough to acquire quality three-point shooters on a limited budget, which is what Los Angeles will be working with as long as LeBron and AD remain in their employ. Such is the nature of working around two max contracts in the NBA. The Lakers cannot outbid anybody for the better shooters on the market and thus must get creative in order to bring in the kind of reinforcements that will both mesh with their superstars' play styles and play winning basketball.
Interestingly enough, that kind of creative move could result in bringing back a player sent out to acquire Davis. Marc Stein reported yesterday that the organization could bring back the one and only Lonzo Ball:
Yet it's worth noting that inevitable rumbles of Lakers interest would not merely emanate from Simmons’ status as a Paul client like LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Word is that the Lakers, on top of their well-chronicled need for more shooting, covet one more difference-making playmaker who would allow James and Davis to spend more time at power forward and center.
Expect to eventually hear of them searching for potential pathways, however obstacle-strewn they would be, to reacquiring restricted free agent-to-be Lonzo Ball for that reason.
This possibility appears more likely in tandem with the Shams Charania report from yesterday suggesting the New Orleans Pelicans won't match any big offer sheets for Ball, a restricted free agent. As previously noted, the Lakers don't have the cap space to sign Ball outright, so a sign-and-trade would have to be the method used to get Ball back. It's not out of the realm of possibility, given David Griffin was in charge when he made the deal with Los Angeles to send out AD. Familiarity matters in these circumstances.
What a fun narrative circle this would be. When Ball left the City of Angels, he was widely lauded as an excellent passer and defender but couldn't shoot worth a lick while his shooting form was the butt of the joke. Three years later, Ball is a respectable shooter from deep (37.1 percent on 8.3 attempts per game) and has settled into his role of a quality role player who can run the offense and space the floor.
This new-and-improved version of Ball would fit perfectly with what the Lakers are looking for. He isn't a creator in his own right but can hold down the fort and get the ball where it needs to be if LeBron/AD are sitting. As Stein notes, Ball could also be the initiator while one or even both are on the floor, which saves some wear-and-tear over the course of the season. That is perhaps the biggest priority for L.A. after injuries sunk the 2020-21 season.
It would be a great story, but it would also mean a victory lap to end all victory laps from LaVar Ball. Nothing is perfect in this world.