The Los Angeles Lakers are eyeing big things this summer, as they are going to try to sign two max-level superstars. But regardless of the result of their pursuit of top free agents in the offseason, they have a lot of roster holes to fill to become at least a playoff team next season.
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder are on top of the priority list of the Lakers. According to Dan Favale of Bleacher Report, the Lakers would still need to sign a center, regardless of the decision of James and George, tagging Nerlens Noel as an ideal target for Los Angeles.
If James and George decide to team up in Los Angeles, the Lakers would need to improve their depth. Julius Randle, Brook Lopez, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope might be gone in the event they manage to sign two superstars. Favale said that Noel could fill the center slot that is expected to be vacated by Lopez.
Randle could stay in Los Angeles if the Lakers sign only one superstar in the offseason. In this scenario, Favale still thinks that Noel makes a lot of sense for Los Angeles because Randle cannot play center for the entire game. He said that Noel could make an impact on a contending team with his defense and with his passing game.
If the Lakers fail to land either superstar, they will continue their rebuilding process. Favale is also convinced that Noel is an ideal option for the Lakers because the former Kentucky standout, who just turned 24 on Tuesday, is young enough to become a rebuilding piece in Los Angeles.
It remains to be seen, though, how much Noel will demand from a team in free agency. According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, the 24-year-old center turned down a four-year, $70 million offer from the Mavericks last summer. He asked for a maximum deal, but the Mavericks did not budge.
In turn, Noel signed a one-year, $4.2 million qualifying offer for this season. However, the gamble did not pay off, as he only averaged 4.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in 30 games for the Mavericks. Based on his numbers, it will be hard for him to get a deal closer to what the Mavericks offered him last summer.
According to Favale, the Lakers could tender a lucrative one-year deal that is almost similar to what they gave Caldwell-Pope last season. The 25-year-old guard signed a one-year deal worth $17.75 million for the 2017-18 NBA season, according to Spotrac.