Many thought that the Lakers would bring back most of the same team that won them the 2020 title for a chance to repeat next season. Instead, we have already seen changes up and down the roster as NBA free agency has officially taken off over the weekend.
With the exits of veterans Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley, and Rajon Rondo, expect the Lakers to target some more experience to fill the remaining vacancies much like they did last offseason.
The additions of Dennis Shröder and Wesley Matthews helped LA take care of their guard positions. Montrezl Harrell will be a boost at forward, but more size could benefit the Lakers once again.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at three free agents that the Lakers could still target as they look to fill out their roster.
3. Hassan Whiteside
Whiteside may not be his all-star self anymore, but he offers teams a ton of value on the defensive end. He still averaged a double-double for the Trail Blazers this past season and would be the picture-perfect replacement for Dwight Howard following his exit.
The reason that Whiteside is not higher on this list is that he may be just out of LA’s price range with the premium on centers this offseason. He won’t command the same $27 million per season that he was getting before, but even a mid-level contract wouldn’t be possible unless the Lakers work some financial gymnastics. If they can find a way to make it work, however, there may be no better fit than Whiteside.
2. Markieff Morris
Markieff Morris was a tremendous addition at the deadline by the Lakers last season. His physical play and veteran presence paid huge dividends for the team down the stretch and throughout their playoff run.
After seeing the impact that he had in such a short amount of time, the Lakers should definitely be interested in a reunion going forward. He brings much-needed toughness and would help make the Lakers bench one of the most bruising groups in the league.
In order to re-sign Morris, LA will most likely have to give him a raise from last year’s $2.26 million salary. After inking Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a new deal, someone like JaVale McGee will probably need to be moved to bring Morris back as well.
1. Marc Gasol
Speaking of shipping out JaVale for another big, Marc Gasol is another name that has been linked to Los Angeles. All things considered, Gasol should be the priority for the Lakers thanks to his combination of playmaking and scoring ability.
Last season, Gasol averaged 3.3 assists per game and shot over 38% from the three. This is the perfect player to surround LeBron James with, adding another playmaker to the starting lineup. With their current cap space, LA would only be able to offer him the vet minimum, hence the interest in shipping off McGee to create the space to make him a better offer.
Gasol can shoot, defend, and make plays for others, making him the perfect target for the defending champs. If the Lakers are able to add the 3-time all-star, they will have won the NBA offseason regardless of what other teams do after.