The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to make a huge splash this summer as their plan of signing two max free agents is presumed to take place. However, in the event that they fail to acquire their desired players, LA Sports Hub suggested that the team should instead sign big men Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor to reinforce its thin frontcourt.
Reports abound that the Lakers’ top priority in the coming offseason would be to lure LeBron James and Paul George to come to La La Land. However, things are looking bleak when it comes to those possibilities with the King anticipated to stay in Cleveland while the Thunder are on a roll, winning six of their last seven games.
LA Sports Hub‘s Jason Reed proposed that if the Lakers’ summer turns out to become “underwhelming,” then they could make a few moves that would ultimately prepare them for another shot at superstar free agents in the 2019 offseason.
Reed recommended that after re-signing both Julius Randle and Isaiah Thomas, the Lakers should then go after a young but cheap center in the market. He specifically mentioned the Mavericks’ Noel and the Nets’ Okafor, both young players and former Philadelphia 76ers mainstays, as possible options in the big man market.
With Brook Lopez projected to leave the squad, the Lakers are set to have a glaring hole in their frontcourt. Randle could be a starter at the No. 5 position, but the 6-foot-9 bruiser would not be big enough to match up against the other teams’ centers. Without Lopez, Ivica Zubac and Thomas Bryant remain as Luke Walton’s only legitimate centers, but both youngsters are still raw to take a starting spot.
The 23-year-old Noel has returned to the Mavs’ lineup late last month after missing Dallas’ previous 42 games due to a thumb injury. He has since been in and out of Rick Carlisle’s rotation, but has proven effective in rebounding and defense whenever he takes on the floor.
Noel has only played in limited minutes under Carlisle since he was acquired via a trade in last year’s deadline. With his presumed fit with the Lakers’ young core, Walton might give the former Kentucky star the exposure he wants to finally have a breakthrough in the league.
Meanwhile, Okafor has also struggled for playing time under Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson. The Sixers traded him along with Nik Stauskas and a 2019 first-rounder to the Nets in December of last year in exchange for Trevor Booker.
Okafor, who turned 22 last December, has received three DNPs in the Nets’ last five games, with the other one earning him only six minutes of playing time. He had 10 points and three rebounds in 13 minutes during the team’s 120-116 loss to the Sixers on March 16.
The former Duke standout continues to struggle on the defensive end while his offensive style is seen as a throwback to traditional post-up big men. These factors have lowered Okafor’s on-court perceived value with the NBA adapting a new open court style of play, the New York Post reported.