Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error That way, Durant can accomplish three things. He can see if the Thunder can progress under second-year coach Billy Donovan after coughing up a 3-1 lead to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. By virtue of becoming a 10-year NBA veteran, Durant will become eligible for a 35 percent pay raise in a max deal as opposed to a 30 percent bump — a difference of nearly $85 million. And Durant can align his pending free agency with Thunder guard and former UCLA standout Russell Westbrook, who will become an unrestricted free agent in 2017.That will likely force the Lakers to execute a fallback plan that appears more unpredictable. League sentiment sounds just as skeptical the Lakers could land Toronto forward and former USC standout DeMar DeRozan. Though the former Compton High star often visits his hometown, DeRozan is expected to stay with the Raptors after they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. That leaves the Lakers likely targeting Miami’s Hassan Whiteside and Atlanta’s Al Horford to upgrade their frontcourt. The 7-foot Whiteside, 27, would be the most appropriate answer to fill the Lakers’ starting center spot after averaging 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game. The 6-foot-10 Horford, 30, averaged 15.2 points on 50.5 percent shooting, though he is more of a forward. Either option would mark an upgrade over Roy Hibbert, who is not expected to be retained after averaging a career-low in points (5.9) and anchoring a defense that ranked 27th in points allowed (106.8).The Lakers also hope to retain second-year guard Jordan Clarkson after he finished last season second on the team in scoring (15.5) and first in minutes played (32.5).How those negotiations turn out, however, will reveal the Lakers’ value in Clarkson and how much they will prioritize short-term or long-term cap flexibility.The Lakers could quickly negotiate a deal after July 1 for two reasons. The move would signal loyalty to Clarkson, who is considered part of the team’s promising young core that includes point guard D’Angelo Russell, forward Julius Randle and forward Larry Nance Jr. The move would also prevent any team from pursuing Clarkson.Then again, the Lakers could maximize cap space in the next two years by matching any of Clarkson’s offer sheets. Under the so-called Gilbert Arenas Provision, the Lakers could pay Clarkson around $5.5 million for the next two seasons before receiving a hefty pay raise around $22-$23 million per season. Still, that approach could hurt the Lakers’ future cap space when the free-agency classes might be considered more talented.As for this year, the Lakers could be intrigued with a number of options. Several talented forwards are available, including New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson, Charlotte’s Nicolas Batum, Dallas’ Chandler Parsons and Golden State’s Harrison Barnes. Anderson, Batum and Parsons are expected to command top salaries. The Warriors are expected to retain Barnes because of his versatility despite his struggles in the NBA Finals.Other interesting scenarios could arise. The Lakers could overspend to attract more players or bank those savings for future offseasons. That depends on what the Lakers value more. If the Lakers want to keep cap flexibility to strike it big in future offseasons, they could offer lucrative albeit short-term deals. If they want to establish roster continuity, the Lakers could offer long-term deals.How that turns out appears less predictable than Durant’s expected rejection to wear purple and gold. After spending the past few seasons experiencing franchise lows for their on-court play, however, the Lakers finally have enough money to collect a consolation prize. The length of the Lakers’ shopping list seems extensive. Fortunately for the Lakers, they have plenty of money for a spending spree.Once free agency begins at 9:01 p.m. PT Thursday, however, the Lakers could soon realize $60 million in purchasing power will not ensure maximum leverage.The top priority seems obvious. The Lakers would love to land Kevin Durant, the seven-time NBA All-Star who would immediately represent the franchise’s next superstar following Kobe Bryant’s retirement from a storied 20-year NBA career.The Lakers, however, are not expected to land a meeting with Durant. Even if the Lakers become another suitor that reportedly also includes the Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat, the sentiment around the league suggests Durant will sign a one-year deal with the Thunder.