The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to make key moves this summer after successfully creating enough salary cap space to sign two major free agents. Most notable of their rumored targets are LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins, and Paul George, who are all set to enter unrestricted free agency in July.
However, since ESPN reported that the Lakers could be “recalibrating” their focus to the 2019 free-agent class, a few other players like Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler have emerged in the rumor mill as well.
While those aforementioned are the more popular names linked to the Hollywood ballclub, there are also some who are not yet All-Stars but are seen as effective enough to help the Lakers improve moving forward. One such player is Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who like Thompson, Leonard, and Butler is going to be a free agent next year, albeit a restricted one.
According to Lake Show Life, the Lakers could potentially pursue Jokic in the 2019 free agency as the Nuggets might be hesitant to give the Serbian big man a max offer by then. The 23-year-old center-forward is nearing the end of his rookie contract and is projected to attract the interest of several teams because of his unselfish style of play.
The blog noted that while the 2014 second-round draft pick has become one of the best offensive talents in the league at his position, Jokic remains to be a “liability on defense” as he also continues to hurt the Nuggets when paired with a traditional center. This is said to be the reason why Denver traded Jusuf Nurkic to the Portland Trail Blazers during last year’s trade deadline before signing Paul Millsap last summer.
With Nuggets team owner Stan Kroenke not known to be someone who tolerates paying the NBA’s luxury tax, speculations are out that Denver might choose to let go of Jokic when that time comes, and one can count that the Lakers are going to consider getting him.
Lake Show Life also said that Jokic “could pair up nicely with Julius Randle” in the Lakers’ frontcourt as his passing game will complement well with the latter’s scoring mindset.