If the Los Angeles Lakers follow through in landing the prize of the offseason, Kawhi Leonard, almost all of their salary cap will be dedicated to their three stars.
While that’s a good problem to have, it also means they’ll have to fill out the rest of their roster with league minimum players. But that shouldn’t be a problem with veterans seemingly lining up for a chance to earn a ring — even players who haven’t been in the league for years
According to a report from ESPN’s Jordan Schultz, Monta Ellis and Amar’e Stoudemire are attempting to make NBA comebacks. They already have workouts set with at least five teams with eyes on the Lakers.
Can Stoudemire and Ellis really make a comeback?
If you’re wondering whether this is 2009 or 2019, that’s a good question. Stoudemire and Ellis haven’t been relevant in years.
Stoudemire last played in the 2015-16 season with the Miami Heat and only played 14.7 minutes per game in 52 games. He hasn’t been an All-Star since 2010-11 and announced his retirement after the 2016 season. However, he has kept playing with appearances in the Israeli Basketball Premier League and BIG3 since.
Ellis, meanwhile, hasn’t been able to find a deal since the 2016-17 season, when he came off the bench for the Indiana Pacers. Surprisingly, he’s never made an All-Star team, although he did average at least 18 points a game from 2007-2015.
However unlikely their returns to form are, the Lakers will need production somewhere. Small, short-term deals have long been a staple of LeBron James-led teams, although the Island of Misfit Toys that was Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley, JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson didn’t work out too well last season.
One major problem with that group was a lack of shooting, and unfortunately, neither Ellis nor Stoudemire has shown much aptitude there. Stoudemire was just 30-for-127 from beyond the arc in 14 seasons, while Ellis only once shot better than 35 percent in a season.
How else might the Lakers fill out their roster
The Lakers already found two key pieces for their bench when they agreed to one-year, minimum deals with versatile forward Jared Dudley and sharpshooting guard Troy Daniels.
The duo won’t be a key scorers, but they fit important roles. Dudley is a career 39.2 percent shooter from three, while Daniels has knocked down 40.0 percent. They’ll need a number of other shooters willing to pass up potentially bigger paydays from other contenders.
All eyes will be on DeMarcus Cousins, who took a massive paycut to sign with the Golden State Warriors last year. After suffering a quad injury during the playoffs, he may be looking to build up his value again on a contender.
Two-time champion Danny Green also remains a free agent, although he his reportedly waiting for Leonard to make a decision. He would likely return to Toronto if Kawhi does but represents another potential 3-and-D piece if his teammate wants to move west.
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