NBA training camps are still six weeks away, and opening night won’t arrive for more than two months, but an injury to a key player already has the Lakers considering ways to address their roster.
Since DeMarcus Cousins went down with a torn ACL last week, the Lakers have expressed some interest in veteran center Dwight Howard. Although Howard remains under contract with the Grizzlies, he’s viewed as a strong candidate for a buyout, and Memphis has reportedly granted permission to the Lakers to talk to the big man and his reps.
Howard isn’t the only veteran center who might be interested in joining the Lakers. When he first reported L.A.’s interest in a possible reunion with Howard, Shams Charania of The Athletic also mentioned Joakim Noah. While Charania didn’t explicitly identify Noah as a player the Lakers are targeting, he probably wasn’t just speculating when he threw his name out there — the former Defensive Player of the Year may also be on the Lakers’ radar.
Besides Howard and Noah, other options who may appeal to the Lakers include Kenneth Faried, Nene, Marreese Speights, Salah Mejri, and Amir Johnson. Our current list of free agents, which also features vets like Eric Moreland, Zaza Pachulia, and Tyler Zeller, can be found here.
Of course, a free agent signing isn’t an absolute necessity for the Lakers. For now, the team only projects to have one opening on its 15-man regular season roster, and the front office may prefer to keep that spot open in the hopes of landing a player later in the season in a trade or on the buyout market. Until then, the Lakers could lean more heavily on JaVale McGee while also playing Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, or other forwards at the five.
Still, Davis is reportedly averse to spending much time at center, and Kuzma, LeBron James, and the club’s other forwards are probably too undersized to bang down low with the NBA’s top big men. Biting the bullet and filling that 15th roster spot with a center right away might be the best path for the Lakers — especially since the team could theoretically open another roster slot by waiving Cousins if he’s ruled out for the entire season.
As the Lakers mull their options, we want to get your two cents. Is a reunion with Howard the right play for the team, given how poorly their union went in 2012/13? Should the Lakers target another free agent? Or should the club be content to hold steady for now, perhaps asking Davis to play a few more minutes in the middle?
Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!
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