In a bit of a twist I certainly did not see coming, the Lakers have worked out former Rockets big man Donatas Motiejunas. From ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne:
The Los Angeles Lakers have auditioned free-agent big man Donatas Motiejunas within the past week, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN that the Lakers brought Motiejunas in before Christmas to work out in front of the front office and coaching staff, but it remains unclear whether they’ll go ahead with signing the former first-round pick.
Apparently, the hold up in potentially offering Montiejunas a contract has to do with the current depth in the front court and how that might disrupt current roles:
But sources said the Lakers are weighing whether there are enough minutes to go around, with the blossoming Julius Randle and Tarik Black playing the bulk of the frontcourt minutes while Nance is out.
The fact that the Lakers are still kicking the tires on available players and looking to add talent is a good thing. Regardless of how much they like the construction of the current team, adding talented players who fit the team’s scheme should always be on the table — and Montiejunas certainly fits that description.
As a stretch big man who can play PF and, in some instances, some small ball C he would fill the role that the team had pegged Yi before he asked for his release after the preseason and before the final cuts. It’s not clear how much Montiejunas would play and, just like the concerns I had about the team potentially keeping Yi, I would have questions about how he fits and how much he would play when the roster was completely healthy. After all, the team is already jamming 4 players (Mozgov, Randle, Nance, and Black) into 96 front court minutes so adding a 5th guy would be pushing the limits of lineup construction while keeping everyone happy.
There is also the fact that the Lakers have a full roster and would need to waive a player to accommodate a Montiejunas signing. When looking at the roster, the most logical choice to cut would likely be Marcelo Huertas. While Metta and Thomas Robinson have non-guaranteed contracts, they both likely have a bit more value in terms of leadership (Metta) and ability to play a viable role (Robinson) than Huertas who has not been in the rotation and, technically, is 4th on the depth chart at PG behind Russell, Calderon, and Lou (or Ingram, depending on how you view the lineup construction).
Of course, all of this is getting ahead of ourselves. As being reported, the Lakers haven’t made a move yet and might not based on several factors. Still, I like that they’re looking and that they still may find ways to upgrade the team with more talent. We’ll see how things go.