NBA free agency officially begins Thursday at 3:00 p.m. PT, but Lakers rumors are already flying in the hours before the league’s legal opening bell. Khobi Prize of The Orlando Sentinel reported earlier today that Los Angeles – in addition to the Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves – were to show interest in Mo Bamba after the Orlando Magic didn’t offer him a qualifying offer and allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent, and he’s not the only one linking the Lakers to the four-year veteran big man.
According to Jovan Buha of Athleticism – as plugged into all things Lakers as anyone is on the beat – Bamba is one of several free agent targets the Lakers would be willing to give their mid-tier exception of around 6.5 million dollars to:
Players the Lakers will target with their mid-level taxpayer exception include Otto Porter Jr., Nicolas Batum, Gary Harris, TJ Warren, Caleb Martin, Cody Martin, Mo Bamba and Danuel House Jr., according to multiple league sources. .
It’s worth noting on this list that nearly all of the names are wingers, which makes sense considering that was the Lakers’ biggest positional weakness last season. All of them would also be totally defensible signings for that money (although Batum seems destined to return to the Clippers). But Bamba could provide enough valuable skills to make it worth using the Lakers’ biggest contract on another big man.
Our own Alex Regla had Bamba on his list of three centers the Lakers should try to sign in free agency, writing that he’s exactly the type of traditional ground-spacing and defensive center who could fit in perfectly alongside Anthony Davis on both ends:
More consistent reps may have also helped Bamba find his shooting touch. Not only did Bamba often let him fly from deep – 44% of his shooting profile came from downtown – but he was extremely effective when he did.
Bamba drilled 38% of his 3-point attempts overall and 40% of his chances over the break according to Cleaning the Glass last season. His 39.3% completion rate on three strikes and shots was second only to Karl-Anthony Towns among centers with at least 200 attempts.
Beyond the welcome ground spacing Bamba would provide the Lakers in the center, he would also help bolster their interior defense. With his still supernatural wingspan of 7’10”, Bamba has ranked at least in the 91st percentile at his block percentage position in every year he has played so far.
And Bamba, Batum, Otto Porter Jr. and the rest of the names aren’t the only ones the Lakers have their eyes on, according to Bouhawho described several players for which the team can also buy from the free agency bargain basket:
Players the Lakers will be interested in for the partial mid-level exception or minimum contracts include Nemanja Bjelica, Jeremy Lamb, Jevon Carter and Juan Toscano-Anderson, league sources say.
Juan Toscano-Anderson appears to be exactly the type of dynamic, young and active athlete the team sorely lacked last season, and could provide solid wing depth if he is truly available for that little money. Given how quickly the Lakers moved through last year’s free agent frenzy, we’ll likely know the answer to how reachable he and the rest of the names on this list will be soon. Stay tuned to Silver Screen and Roll for every update.
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