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Lakers Likely To Target Festus Ezeli

The Lakers will have interest in signing Festus Ezeli this summer, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, citing a source. Still, Ezeli prefers to re-sign with the Warriors, believing he’ll inherit a job in the starting lineup once Andrew Bogut‘s contract expires after next season, a source indicated to Deveney. Golden State has the ability to match all offers for him as a restricted free agent, though several league executives suggested it’ll take a three-year, $50MM deal for any team to secure the 26-year-old center.

It’s nonetheless unlikely Ezeli ends up with a four or five-year deal, Deveney writes, pointing to his history of injuries. The 6’11” former Vanderbilt player has only appeared in 170 regular season games since becoming the 30th overall pick in the 2012 draft. A left knee surgery helped limit him to 46 regular season appearances this year. Still, he’s impressed when he’s made it onto the court, and his performance in Tuesday’s playoff game was vital to Golden State’s win over Portland.

Agent Bill Duffy reportedly talked Ezeli out of signing what would have been a team-friendly extension with the Warriors this past fall, but the center said shortly after extension discussions broke down that he wants to remain with Golden State for his entire career. Warriors assistant GM Kirk Lacob, the son of co-owner Joe Lacob, suggested in January that the team would be willing to pay whatever’s necessary to retain Ezeli and fellow soon-to-be restricted free agent Harrison Barnes this summer.

Still, the Warriors, like the Lakers and just about every NBA team, have aspirations of signing Kevin Durant, and it may well be necessary for the team to let go of Ezeli and Barnes to create enough cap room for the former MVP, given that the Warriors already have more than $73MM in guaranteed salary against a projected $92MM salary cap. Durant is in line for an estimated max of about $26MM for next season.

The Lakers have much greater flexibility with only $23MM in guaranteed salary. They’ll have an opening at starting center with Roy Hibbert headed into free agency.

Where do you think Ezeli will play next season? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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26 thoughts on “Lakers Likely To Target Festus Ezeli

  1. Thronson5

    Golden State. Don’t see him leaving there. I see the Lakers grabbing another Center in free agency or in trade. I really have this strong feeling they’ll sign Howard again. I know everyone probably thinks I’m crazy but I think they will. You got him and Randle grabbing boards then they sign DeRozan, bring back Clarkson and draft Simmons or Ingram. That’s the way I feel they’ll go. We will see if I’m right or wrong and who knows, I’m probably wrong and they’ll probably trade their pick. If I’m right though I need to play the lotto more lol

    • My guess is they lose the pick. I know the odds are in their favor but nothing has gone right for Lakers in a while. I also have a feeling that they will strike out on a lot of free agents. The “glamour” of LA and endorsements is not what it use to be. Only thing they can hope is their young players develop VERY QUICKLEY and they can find some solid (not getting a major player) free agents to fill in gaps. Find players will like Barnes, Batum, Monore, Mirotic etc. nice, solid players but nothing that is considered a top 20 type player (not saying they are available, just using “talent expectations” as the basis). I just don’t see the Lakers getting guys like Durant, Westbrook, Harden, LeBron etc when over the years when teams have then money. Hell, my guess is they don’t even get DeMar. The laker purple and gold is not what it use to be. You already have seen the past few years. Even the glamour with being a Knick, Celtic etc is gone.

      • Thronson5

        This I do not agree with. I think players will want to play for Walton and want to be a part of bringing a championship back to this franchise.

      • Grant Weddle

        I may be wrong but I don’t agree that the “glamour” of LA has gone away I personally feel that a lot of the “stars”that have been available recently just simply prioritize other aspects of teams. Given enough time there may be more selfish stars in the future who will fall for Hollywood

    • jklmno

      Howard left a bad taste with the Lakers. And the way he has been playing (not getting along) with Harden should speak volumes. He can not handle playing with another star player. He NEEDS to be the only star and frankly he’s good but not a star any more. PASSSSSS!

      • Thronson5

        I agree with that

        • BSPORT

          100%. I hated Howard while he was in LA and don’t think he can play with anybody and isn’t that good. He will never win anything. Salary cap killer. Buss should be embarrassed for begging him to stay when he did nothing but complain and suck with team.

      • bowserhound

        I agree with that too and don’t want Howard back at all. BUT, there are no other stars on the Lakers as of right now so…

        • BSPORT

          He’s not a star. He’s a way overpaid baby that’s cancer to whatever team he goes to. Who has ever gone to play with Howard that was any good anywhere he’s been? And he is very soft for his size. He could have been awesome with the body and talent he could have. His head is his problem and we don’t need anymore of him. I’m good go ruin a different team Dwight. Go knock on Danny’s door in Beantown.

          • BSPORT

            Only thing better than getting him back would be getting D’Antoni back to coach and him.

        • Thronson5

          I think they’ll still try get Howard. I could be wrong though. But I think he will be one of the guys they go after. It’s a long list and he isn’t their top guy but I bet they at least talk to his agent.

          • BSPORT

            Could do so much better with the money. I guarantee Durant won’t come to play with him or anybody else and they will be stuck with him. Jim should have learned from his first mistake bringing him there. If he even talks to him he should be hung by his own balls.

  2. It would take a huge offer from other teams to sign Ezeli, since he is a restricted free agent and the Warriors can match any offer sheet. If it’s around $10-12 million, it would be a steal, especially if he can stay healthy, though I wouldn’t be surprised if a team throws $15 or even $20 million. It really all depends on how much money another team’s offer sheet is worth and whether the Warriors are willing to match that amount.

    Lakers will definitely be in the mix, but I think they try to lure the big name free agents (Durant, Derozan) before they spend money on Ezeli. Whiteside especially would be another option to Ezeli.

    • For sure on Whiteside! KD isn’t coming to LA this yr he has no desire to not make the playoffs next year, he wants to play for chips at this stage of his career. KD isn’t leaving a top 4 team in the league for a bottom 4 team in the league come on!!! Derozan is more likely, but I actually would prefer Barnes or Nic Batum over Derozan.

      • BSPORT

        A good young core with cap space in LA should be tempting but Buss is what will screw it up. If he doesn’t think he’s good enough to elevate the team past a top four team than we don’t want him. Laker fans need a winner with a drive for championships not a chance for just one with team of veterans. With a young coach and young top round pick guys that look up to him could be his best situation. And your are the star on the Lakers. Only place he would get treated better would be in NY if he brought Knicks a championship but that looks like would be much harder to pull off.

  3. DEEP3CL

    He’s restricted…these types of players are hard to place on your team

  4. smittybanton

    Warriors at $72M before re-signing Ezeli and Barnes. If they match $20M offers for both, they’ve hit next year’s salary cap even if it goes up by $20M. Ezeli is not irreplaceable by a long shot. He’s out of there. Lakers or elsewhere.

    If Lakers trade for Russell, Randle and their pick for Paul George, they could be talking Jordan Clarkson, Dwyane Wade, Paul George, Kevin Durant, and Festus Ezeli.

    • IDK Ezeli isn’t worth 20 mill. If I was GSW I would get rid of Varejao, and trade Bogut, so you could potentially sign Barnes at 17mil/yr and Ezeli at 12 mil/yr. They have to worry about paying Steph the next season after that as well.

      • smittybanton

        Nobody will be “worth” the contracts they’re about to get this summer. Gonna be insane.

    • BSPORT

      Does Wade come with knee replacements?

  5. Laker fans are crazy if they think that Luke Walton and that young core is good enough to convince KD and/or LeBron to LA. I’m a fan of Walton, but the guy only coached as well as he did because of how good GS is. The Lakers young core isn’t that good either. The best player of that core is Clarkson and he’s barely a top 15 player at his position, Russell is still a project and Randle is an undersized big who can’t shoot or defend. Also the allure of bringing the Lakers back to their glory days isn’t all that alluring if it’s not happening for a couple of years. The Lakers are a fringe playoff team next year (assuming they sign a good player or two like DeRozan, Whiteside) and are probably another two years (at least!) from being a serious contender. A stud player like Durant/LeBron might be able to get the Lakers to the playoffs next year, but they would be met with a quick first round exit at the hands of GS or San Antonio.

    • aarongill

      Luke Walton is very smart. He suggested to Kerr to start Draymond Green over David Lee and start Iggy in the finals. He should get credit. You will be surprised with Russell, who will have a lot better year with an ACTUAL system, Randle is decent, monster on the boards, and clarkson can still improve, not to mention that if they keep their pick, Ingram and Simmons have all star potential. But of course you wouldn’t want that because I’ve seen you comment the same thing on Laker articles. I’m guessing your a Knicks, sixers, or Celtics fan?

      • I’m actually a Pacers fan. I never doubted Walton, I’m just saying that it’s unreasonable to expect him to come in first year and attract every single big name free agent and lead the Lakers back to the finals. Walton is going to be a great coach in my opinion, but it still stands that he had as much success as he did because of how talented the GS roster is. And I’m a fan of Clarkson and I think Russell can become a solid point guard (maybe not perennial all-star like all you Lakers fans seem to suggest) but a solid one nonetheless. And while Randle is a monster on the boards, it still stands that he’s undersized, can’t shoot, and can’t defend either so he’s not exactly a player teams are clamoring over and willing to give up their all star player for. Potential is great and all but it doesn’t get you rings and teams aren’t rushing to give up a perennial all star for a bunch of guys who MIGHT become all stars. I should of made this more clear but the point I was trying to make is that Laker fans have to be more realistic with their expectations. Hoping for the best case scenario is great, but you all seem to be expecting that every marque name is going to the Lakers just because of their history and that every team should take scraps for their best player.

        • BSPORT

          I wouldn’t deal any of them. None of them could do anything up to their potential with Kobe still there. Need to see what they can do now that it will be their team and yes with a system to play in. Another top pick this year I would say again it’s LA Lakers. For a star that wants to shine there isn’t a better place or available money.

        • aarongill

          And the lakers are fine with keeping them. We will continue our rebuild. All fan bases have delusional fan bases, I try to be as real as possible, I really don’t think Walton would change any star player mind at all. They’re mind might change if they would trade for maybe George or butler but I don’t see a star coming anyway. Randle won’t be good on defense but we all knew that, he’s improving his shot and was considered slow out of college but now is one of the quickest power forwards in the league. I’ve seen Russell’s flashes and I think with a system(not pass to Kobe, go to corner system) we will see improvement.

  6. I don’t think Ezeli will ever be a frontline center, playing 30 minutes a game. Why? His injuries have kept him out of action every season he’s been with the Warriors. There’s only so much you can do to your knees before you lose movement. His injuries have prevented him from developing an offensive game, he can do alley oop dunks but not much else so his value is defensively. But if the Lakers or some other team want to lay a crazy $20 million/year on him, the Warriors won’t match.

    A lot will depend on what happens in the playoffs, whether KD decides to leave OkC, and where he signs. It will be a domino effect for the Warriors with Barnes and Ezeli. They are both restricted FAs.

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