In the dark days of the Chris Cowan ownership regime, the Golden State Warriors would often look to the south after a disappointing, playoff-missing season, and add a free agent from the successful, championship-winning Los Angeles Lakers. Remember when the team gave Derek Fisher a six-year contract in 2004? And then salary-dumped him two years later? Or when they gave former Laker Ronny Turiaf a four-year deal in 2008, and salary-dumped him four years later? (Along with Anthony Randolph, a prospect certain corners Dub Nation still believe in.)
Well, well, well. How the turntables have...you know. The Lakers have now begun adding former Warriors in free agency. Like JaVale McGee. And Boogie Cousins. And Andrew Bogut. And Kent Bazemore. And even two-time NBA champion Quinn Cook! And Alfonzo McKinnie, Damian Jones, and Coach Luke Walton.
According to a report by Jovan Buha in The Athletic, the Lakers will continue to be shopping in the Used Warriors section this off-season, with a number of free agent Dubs topping their wish list.
Players the Lakers will target with their full taxpayer midlevel exception include Otto Porter Jr., Nicolas Batum, Gary Harris, T.J. Warren, Caleb Martin, Cody Martin, Mo Bamba and Danuel House Jr., according to multiple league sources. Players the Lakers will be interested in for the partial midlevel exception or minimum contracts include Nemanja Bjelica, Jeremy Lamb, Jevon Carter and Juan Toscano-Anderson, according to league sources.
The article also mentions Kevon Looney and Gary Payton II, but thankfully they’re classified as “unrealistic targets.”
Otto Porter Jr. is their top target, unsurprisingly, after a comeback season in SF where he showed he can still play great defense, rebound, and drain threes, especially from the corner. He’s also a little past his prime and very injury-prone, two qualities that the Lakers seem to especially covet when finding teammates for LeBron James. If they actually do start the season with Russell Westbrook, Porter’s defense would be essential, and he would also have plenty of missed shots to rebound. Someone is going to give Porter the mid-level exception, and if it’s not the Warriors, it might as well be LA.
How does Bjelica fit in with the Lakers? Easy. He’s older and slower than Porter, which must make the training staff salivate. Belli can shoot threes, which the spacing-starved Lakers would value, and while he’s an inch shorter than Anthony Davis, new coach Darvin Ham can say Bjelica is the center when he’s playing alongside the Brow, because Davis hates playing center. Bjelica is a fancy passer, though those passes often don’t go exactly where he intends, but again, more accurate than Westbrook. But if the Lakers are only offering the veteran minimum, you’d think he’d return for the same money in Golden State.
Juan Toscano-Anderson is apparently out of the Warriors’ plans for next year after they declined to make him a qualifying offer. How does he fit in LA? While JTA was buried on the Warriors bench late in the season, he might be a better 3-and-D option than any current Lakers bench player, with the ability to play both forward positions. Plus, the Lakers are now led by Ham, the only head coach in NBA history to compete in the Slam Dunk Contest (We aren’t counting Doug Christie’s games as a COVID fill-in coach for Sacramento). He would appreciate Toscano-Anderson’s dunking prowess, even if JTA never shattered a backboard like Ham Slamwich did in college.
Somehow the Lakers aren’t yet targeting Damian Lee or Chris Chiozza yet, but perhaps they’re waiting for the first burst of free agent action to die down. They’ve also got a clean shot to add Mychal Mulder and Ky Bowman, and they might even be able to land Sydney Kings point guard Ian Clark. Good luck Rob Pelinka, but stay away from Belli!