The Lakers reportedly have interest in signing Festus Ezeli, who is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason. While the big man could likely garner more playing time elsewhere, 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, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Golden State has the ability to match any offer for Ezeli, though several league executives have suggested that it will take a three-year, $50MM deal for any team to secure the 26-year-old center.
While Ezeli remains a solid option off the bench, the 6’11” former Vanderbilt player has struggled with injuries throughout his career, only appearing 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.
Ezeli’s agent, Bill Duffy, reportedly talked him out of signing what would have been a team-friendly extension with the Warriors last 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 had suggested in January that the team would be willing to pay whatever is necessary to retain Ezeli. The Warriors may find it difficult to keep him, given they already have more than $73MM in guaranteed salary against a projected $92MM salary cap. The Lakers have much greater flexibility with only $23MM in guaranteed salary. Plus, they will have an opening at center with Roy Hibbert hitting free agency.
This brings me to the topic for today: How much do you think Festus Ezeli is worth for his next contract?
The center has career averages of 4.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and one block per game in 14.1 minutes per appearance. His career shooting numbers are .513/.000/.557. While those numbers aren’t earth-shattering, they represent a small sample size of what Ezeli may be capable of if given additional playing time. But is his potential worth the risk of signing him to a long-term deal for upward of $14MM-$16MM per season? That is the question that prospective suitors will need to ask themselves, and the same is true for the Warriors, who could benefit by keeping their roster as intact as possible, given the team’s success and stellar chemistry.
But what say you? Is Ezeli a starting-caliber center in your eyes? What do you believe a fair contract would look like for the big man? Take to the comments section to share your thoughts and opinions on the matter. We look forward to what you have to say.