One of the last vestiges of Lakers free agency rumor season was regarding their 15th roster spot and whether they would use that vacancy to fill a hole on the wing. The name that was most recently associated with that opening was Shabazz Muhammad, the Timberwolf turned restricted free agent turned unrestricted free agent.
The former UCLA Bruin and Rob Pelinka client played SF for the Wolves and, in theory, would have filled in on the wing behind Brandon Ingram. Turns out, though, he won’t now. Since he’s going to return to Minnesota:
Free agent guard Shabazz Muhammad is finalizing a deal to return to Minnesota, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 12, 2017
It’s hard to know how much interest there was between Muhammad and the Lakers — though I’ve heard both sides were serious about him coming to Los Angeles. As noted, things could have potentially fit well with his former agent now the GM and the Lakers having minutes to fill on the wing.
Bazz isn’t the most “Luke Walton” type of player for the wing — he’s not a shooter and is not a natural ball mover by any means, but he can score and can do real work in transition. He’s also a post option as a perimeter player, something that can be exploited in the team’s playbook and offer some diversity to a team that can use another bucket getter.
Alas, though, it will not be. Which really means the team we see now is very much likely the team that will go into training camp at the end of the month. This, ultimately, translates to the Lakers giving first dibs to minutes at SF to either Corey Brewer, Kyle Kuzma, or Luol Deng. The first of those three is aged and the latter two are more natural fits at PF, but it is what it is. You can’t have everything — especially when you’re a team projected to in in the low 30’s this season.
So, I’d say the rumor mill is now closed. Which is fine. From where I sit, it’s time to start to see what this team has with the guys it has in house and to see what players can stick beyond what is going to be a year of transition for the roster and organization at large.