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Free agency guide: What the Lakers will look for in big men

first_img Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersStill, the Lakers must bolster their frontcourt depth and possibly give Davis opportunities to play power forward in certain lineups. Given the depth of the big man market, a talented one might be found for a bargain. In the lower levels of spending, here’s what that might look like:ROTATION LEVELIf the Lakers don’t get their max guy and have a little money to spend, it could be worthwhile to get a big who can help stretch the floor and rebound. Though Davis and James are strong rebounders, and Kyle Kuzma is also more forward than wing at this point in his career, added depth here is helpful.The prototype: Dewayne Dedmon – There will be significant competition for him, and that might price the Lakers out, but it’s worth examining his skill set for traits that help a team such as the Lakers. The 29-year-old USC product averaged about 10 points and 7.5 rebounds last year for Atlanta. As a 3-point shooter, he’s blossomed in the last two years, shooting just over 38 percent last season. He also has solid shot-blocking prowess as a 7-footer, averaging about one per game last season. He might not be a player the Lakers actually get, but those are the kind of big man traits that are going to help.Other names: It’s probably worthwhile to at least mention a few names that (for now) seem out of the Lakers’ price range, because unexpected things can happen. Near the top of that list are going to be two players that the Lakers let get away: Brook Lopez and Julius Randle. Lopez’s long-range shooting ability allows him to space the floor despite being a 7-footer, and Randle found success sharing a frontcourt with Davis last season in New Orleans. They’re both probably out of the Lakers’ spending range, along with bigs like Al Farouq-Aminu and Marcus Morris (a stretchy power forward/big wing), who can stretch the floor as well and have defensive versatility that would be useful. ESPN reported Saturday afternoon that Enes Kanter, who had some success for the Portland Trail Blazers most recently, was receiving interest from the Lakers.Watch for veteran bigs who might be willing to take a discount: For example, does DeAndre Jordan have interest in returning to Los Angeles? He’s not the force he once was on the boards, but he is capable enough to start if need be, and on what could be a veteran-laden team, he could be a good culture fit. If the Lakers want to make a run at someone younger, Golden State’s Kevon Looney doesn’t have a long-range threat, but he showed in this year’s playoffs that he has a versatile skill set and defensive intensity that can bring value to a contender. How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions center_img ROOM EXCEPTION LEVELThe Lakers have a room exception salary slot for next year that will be worth an estimated $4.8 million. There are many ways they could use this, and they might try to use it to retain a guard or wing. But if this is used on a big man, here are some players in their range:The prototype: Taj Gibson – He’s got experience, a physical style and a workmanlike ethic cultivated by years playing for Tom Thibodeau. Gibson (another USC product) could help bring an edge to a team hoping to make a playoff run, and is good enough to start occasionally, but he doesn’t have to. He also shoots about 32 percent from 3-point range – not great, but good enough to keep opponents honest if he’s spacing from the wing. His style brings balance to the more finesse aspects of Davis’ game. And at 34, perhaps he’s willing to take less to hunt for an elusive ring.Other names: JaVale McGee is likely going to stir up mixed feelings, and he might want a bigger role than the Lakers can offer. But he also has a home in Los Angeles, and the production he had last year when healthy and focused was strong enough. He’s a starter in a pinch, and if the Lakers are willing to shell out more than they did last year at the minimum, maybe it convinces him to stay.Veterans are going to be options here. Think Robin Lopez, who similarly to Gibson would give a physical edge as well as intensity. Markieff Morris could be valuable if he finds consistency with his shooting touch. While he struggled for Oklahoma City after being bought out, a full-season run with one team might help. If the Lakers want to take a flier on a younger player who might still have value, Charlotte’s Frank Kaminsky might make some sense as a big who can shoot.MINIMUM LEVELRelated Articles Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers On the eve of free agency, how are the Lakers going to spend their money?After looking at wings and guards, big men are the last group we’ll examine. But already boasting Anthony Davis, it seems unlikely that the Lakers will spend big money for more size, so in our preview of available free agents, it’s necessary to adjust the exercise.The Lakers will have an estimated $32 million in salary cap space, which they are expected to either use on a max-contract free agent to team with Davis and LeBron James or split up to look for guard help.So shelling out for Al Horford, Nikola Vucevic or DeMarcus Cousins seems not only like a pipe dream, but an unwise investment. Whether the Lakers land the max free agent of their dreams, or whether they’re divvying up the budget, big men aren’t going to be addressed at the top of the list. If the Lakers come back with a third star, they’ll likely have to fill out the bulk of their roster with minimum-level players. These are typically borderline NBA talents or past-their-prime players who already have significant career earnings. Minimum contracts are set and come with no bonuses ($2.6 million for veterans with 10 years of experience) – it’s possible that some players mentioned in this tier would want to sign for more.The prototype: Jonas Jerebko – A small piece of Golden State’s team last year, he had a moderate impact. The Swede averaged 6.3 points and 3.9 rebounds while playing in the back end of the rotation. He’s a career 36 percent 3-point shooter. He has experience on playoff teams in Boston, Utah and Golden State. He’s 32, not so old that a swift and sudden downturn is a big concern. A player like Jerebko brings value for minimal investment, which the Lakers will be looking for a lot in the coming years.Other names: There’s a strong chance that most of the frontcourt will be filled out on minimum deals, and the Lakers figure out a way to make do with Davis, Kuzma and James along with some lesser players. Skewing older, Joakim Noah, Nene, Greg Monroe and Amir Johnson are on the market. The Lakers could also hope that a younger player could work as a reclamation project: Cheick Diallo and Dragan Bender are players still in their early 20s who might grow if given a second chance.What is the value of a player such as Pau Gasol or Tyson Chandler, who didn’t play much last season with injuries, but could be good for a locker room? Those might be pieces the Lakers look at if they still need to fill out the roster toward the end of the market.last_img


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