NBA Rumors: Should The LA Lakers Sign Jahlil Okafor In 2020 Free Agency?

Jahlil Okafor of the New Orleans Pelicans drives against Willie Cauley-Stein of the Sacramento Kings
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Since being selected as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, New Orleans Pelicans center Jahlil Okafor has gone through plenty of ups and downs in his NBA career. When the 2019-20 NBA season is over, Okafor is once again set to become an unrestricted free agent. One of the NBA teams who could express an interest in adding Okafor to their roster is the Los Angeles Lakers.

In his recent article, Jason Reed of Fansided’s Lake Show Life included Okafor on the list of young players that the Lakers could target in free agency. With his failure to live up to expectations from a lottery pick, Reed admitted that Okafor would not be an ideal target for a team who is in a win-now mode like the Lakers. However, Reed believes that allowing Okafor to play alongside a player as great as LeBron James could help him bring back his confidence and unlock his potential.

“In today’s NBA that is getting smaller, Okafor is not worth as much as he would have been 20 years ago, especially considering his production has not been all that great in his career. He only played 28 games this season and averaged 7.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. While that might not seem all that great, Okafor is still only going to be 25 years old in December. He is young and has a lot of basketball in front of him, and as we have seen with other young centers in the past, such as Ivica Zubac, LeBron James really can maximize talent at the center position.”

Jahlil Okafor #8 of the New Orleans Pelicans reacts during the second half against the Sacramento Kings at the Smoothie King Center on October 19, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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Okafor hasn’t shown any sign that he’s no longer happy with the Pelicans, but he would definitely be intrigued by the idea of playing for a big-market team like the Lakers. Aside from having the opportunity to pick the brains of James and Anthony Davis, signing with the Lakers would also give Okafor a realistic chance of winning an NBA championship.

However, bringing Okafor to Los Angeles is highly unlikely to be a top priority for the Lakers in free agency. Instead of targeting a traditional big man who has defensive issues, the Lakers should first address their need of another shot creator and playmaker.

Also, as of now, the Lakers are already content with Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee manning their center position. Even if Howard decides to take his talent somewhere else, the Lakers are expected to target other veteran free agent big men like DeMarcus Cousins before they would consider giving Okafor a contract.