Archives For Free Agents

We told you heading into free agency be ready for some sticker shock. We then told you in their search for a big man, the Lakers were likely going to have to spend a lot of money. And even though we said all that, when news of the Lakers’ inking Timofey Mozgov to a 4 year, $64 million deal hit, it still came as a surprise.

Welcome to the new world of NBA spending.

I don’t think many would have been upset of this contract was handed out to a sexier “name” player — Whiteside, Biyombo — who was thought to have a higher upside and room to still grow in this league. But Mozgov is a veteran big man who turns 30 this month. It’s doubtful he will improve in any tangible way, though the hope would be he continues to sharpen his strengths to become a more effective version of the player he has been.

In any event, Mozgov is the Lakers’ new starting big man. And, while it will be impossible to ignore the price tag, it’s how good of a player he is and how his skill-set can be used by the team which also matters here.

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Unlike past seasons, the Lakers have wasted no time in free agency this summer. After reportedly agreeing to a contract with Cavs big man Timofey Mozgov for 4 year, $64 million contract, the team took care of one of their own free agents late last night.

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UPDATE: The deal is reportedly done. The amount being reported is $64 million over 4 years. We do not yet know if there are options in the deal or the structure of the contract (flat, raises each year, decreasing over time), but it’s all pretty firm now. My initial analysis is below. I will have more up soon.


The Lakers have a pretty big hole at the Center position. In the lead up to free agency, it was thought they might chase Hassan Whiteside hard and were even linked to Bismack Biyombo earlier today. It seems, though, they will go in a different direction:

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While the wooing won’t officially begin until midnight eastern time tonight, that doesn’t mean things aren’t already taking shape in free agency. Teams are making plans to meet with free agents and there are already reports of reciprocated interest among those targets to their linked teams.

The Lakers? Well, things aren’t quite shaping up as I’m guessing many would have hoped. We have already profiled potential targets a C and at SF the Lakers could use, but it seems some of those players have other plans in mind. Let’s get to the latest buzz:

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Free agency begins this evening and with that there are some accounting and loose ends to be tied. One which is the extending of qualifying offers to your own restricted free agents in order to keep them restricted and maintain matching rights. The Lakers had several such players on their roster and made decisions on them today:

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We know the Lakers should be interested in Hornets Small Forward Nic Batum. Besides Kevin Durant and LeBron James — neither of whom the Lakers will sign, much less meet with — Batum is the top SF on the market and has a skill set the Lakers desperately need. It will take the max to sign him which, for Batum, is a salary starting at $26 million.

He will make this amount of money and, in the new NBA economy, will make it easily. Teams will line up to offer it to him. The question is which team will he want to pay it to him?

This is where the Lakers come in. It has long been believed the Hornets have more than just the inside track at retaining Batum, but that it is a foregone conclusion. The versatile forward was a lynch-pin to Steve Clifford’s schemes on both sides of the ball and helped the Hornets return to the playoffs. They would give him the money and he would return.

Maybe those assumptions jumped the gun a bit? Brad Turner of the LA Times says the Lakers may be in play:

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The Lakers’ biggest free agent need may be in the pivot, but you don’t total 17 wins if your only problem is needing a new Center. And despite the Lakers drafting Brandon Ingram #2 overall and having D’Angelo Russell and (restricted free agent) Jordan Clarkson as young players on the rise, the team could really use some help on the wing.

First, I think it’s worth repeating the prices for free agents are going to be outrageous this summer and you should prepare yourself for sticker shock. We discussed this some in our look at big men, but bigs always command high salaries. With wings, though, there’s typically more leeway. The supply of wings typically outpaces demand and while the cream of the crop will always get paid, there is usually some value to be found when going to the 2nd or 3rd tier.

That may end up being true this summer too, but “value” will be a relative term. When the cap explodes and teams have so much money to spend they won’t actually be able to spend it all, the formula inverts where the supply of dollars is going to vastly outpace players who would, in a normal year, make that much money. So, even if the Lakers go down-shelf shopping, they’re still likely to be paying a premium for their target simply because the availability of money¬†for all players will ratchet up contract amounts.

With that out of the way and the Lakers need for a wing established, it’s time to go shopping. But first, let’s again take stock of what’s in the cupboard. As noted, the Lakers already have Russell and Ingram. Re-signing Clarkson is a priority and will almost certainly happen. They also have Lou Williams who will demand some minutes. Looking at this group, however, two things become clear: There’s only one SF in that group (Ingram) and there’s not a lot of defense-first guys (zero).

The team’s needs mostly revolve around those two areas and they’d be wise to chase players who fit a certain profile. Namely, if the guy can play small forward and has the potential to be a plus defender, he should get a long look. Of course shooting still matters. And being at least an adequate passer and having enough ball skills to initiate the offense in some way would also be great. But if those latter skills come at the expense of defense and position certainty, a guy should move down the list (or off it entirely).

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It is no secret where the holes on this Lakers’ team are. While the argument could be made there are holes everywhere — this team won 17 games last year! — the presence of multiple young players who hope to improve mean there are really only a few positions (and roles) of true need.

One of those positions — and probably the highest priority one — is Center. Roy Hibbert is an unrestricted free agent and, in all likelihood, will not be brought back. Brandon Bass, who played backup C for most of the year, declined his player option and is now a free agent. Tarik Black and Robert Sacre are restricted free agents and it is not yet clear if the Lakers will tender them qualifying offers, giving the team the ability to match FA offers.

The Lakers did draft Ivica Zubac in the 2nd round of the draft and there are reports he will come over from Europe this season to play in the NBA. But even if Zubac makes the team, he’s only 19 years old and could not be relied upon to be the team’s starter in the pivot. He would would also be the only Center the Lakers currently project to have under contract for next year. So, yeah, finding a rotation level big man (and ideally a high functioning starter) is important.

The good news for the Lakrs is that the list of big men options in free agency is relatively deep. The bad news is that teams always — ALWAYS — have to overpay for size in free agency. As much as we glorify the shift towards small ball in the modern NBA, being taller than nearly everyone else is still seen as an advantage when the goal is to score and stop your opponent from putting a ball into a fixed rim 10 feet high off the ground.

Below, then, is my list of five free agent big men I would recommend the Lakers target. This list is not definitive and I will offer a few other names after it, but these guys would be my priority. I would call them all at 9:01pm Pacific time on June 30th (aka 12:01am July 1st) to express my interest if I could:

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