The Los Angeles Lakers have a lot of roster holes to address this summer and it looks like they’re targeting two proven veterans to help fill out the roster.
At the current moment, the Lakers have six players under contract with a seventh player — rookie draft pick Talen Horton-Tucker — likely to be signed to a minimum contract after being selected with the No. 46 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Considering the Lakers still have eight roster spots left to fill through free agency, it appears they’re going after some heavy hitters. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (H/T RealGM), the Lakers are being linked to DeAndre Jordan because of the belief he could be had on a cheaper deal and due to the fact that Jordan wants to return to Los Angeles. Jordan spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Clippers before signing with the Dallas Mavericks prior to the start of last season.
Windhorst also mentions that the Lakers have interest in Brook Lopez, their former starting center from the 2017-18 season who they allowed to walk as a free agent last summer allowing him to join the Milwaukee Bucks and help lead them to the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
“The Lakers, I think, are sniffing around (Lopez). I think the Lakers need perimeter players. I think they’re going to have to use their money on perimeter players. I know DeAndre Jordan is a guy on the Lakers’ radar that they’re hoping they may able to get for relatively cheap because he wants to be back in L.A.”
Obviously, the Lakers are interested in big men. Outside of Anthony Davis and Moritz Wagner, they don’t have any big men under contract. Considering the Lakers don’t exactly have much cap space left — they could have as little as $23.7 million remaining to fill out eight roster spots depending upon when the A.D. trade actually is finalized — they are also being linked to Orlando Magic big man Nikola Vucevic, who is entering unrestricted free agency following his first All-Star season after leading the Magic to their first playoff berth since the 2011-12 season.
Via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
“Orlando and Vucevic… there’s a lot of motivation for those two sides to get a deal done. Vucevic has wanted to stay there. Both the Celtics and Lakers are potential landing spots for Vucevic if he doesn’t get a deal done with the Magic.”
It is expected that Vucevic would command a max contract, which means that he’s eligible to sign a five-year, $189.7 million deal with the Magic or a four-year, $140.6 million deal with another franchise such as the Lakers — which would mean an annual salary of roughly $35 million. In other words, while the Lakers would love to sign Vucevic, I can’t realistically see a scenario where that actually ends up being a reality considering he’s a 28-year-old center in his prime who can sign for the max with Orlando.
However, the DeAndre Jordan and Brook Lopez scenarios are realistic considering the fact they’re both older players who could be had for the veteran’s minimum — especially with the allure of playing for a championship, something neither veteran center has never won to this point in their respective careers. When you factor in that Jordan has ties to the Los Angeles area and that Lopez previously played for the Lakers while possessing the much-needed ability of being able to convert on 3-pointers — he made a career-high 187 3-pointers while shooting a career-high 36.5 percent from beyond the arc during the 2018-19 season with theMilwaukee Bucks — both players make sense for a Lakers team in desperate need of players, veterans and big men.