NBA Analysis: The Lakers Are Targeting Eight Players, but One Player Should be the Clear Frontrunner

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

As free agency is set to begin, the Lakers are expected to target eight players with their full taxpayer mid-level exception (MLE).


According to The Athletic, the Lakers will target T.J. Warren, Otto Porter Jr., Nicolas Batum, Mo Bamba, Gary Harris, Caleb Martin, Cody Martin, and Danuel House Jr. with their MLE. After a disappointing season, the Lakers will need a two-way player who can knock down shots and guard the best player on the other team or a center like Mo Bamba, who can shoot the three-ball and protect the rim on the defensive end.

So which player should the Lakers prioritize? Nicolas Batum has always been an all-around player; however, he will likely re-sign with the Clippers. Otto Porter Jr., coming off an NBA Championship season, will likely re-sign with the Warriors. T.J. Warren will get interest from several teams and could be looking for more money than the mid-level exception the Lakers offer.

Gary Harris, Caleb Martin, and Cody Martin will all similarly contribute to the Lakers, but there are better options for the team in free agency. As for Danuel House Jr., he was a good two-way player with the James Harden-led Houston Rockets. He could be a good piece to the Lakers rotation, but that should be a last resort for the team.

With Miles Bridges’ domestic violence arrest, he could be signed at a discounted price, because it is unlikely he will get the max deal. If the Lakers have the opportunity to sign Bridges for the MLE, they likely won’t pass up on that opportunity.

However, the Lakers should prioritize Mo Bamba in free agency. Alongside power forward star Anthony Davis, Bamba could see open looks from three and turn into an elite rim protector, similar to JaVale McGee’s defensive prowess when he played with the Lakers. Last season, Bamba averaged 10.6 points on 47.5 percent shooting, 8.1 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 1.5 threes per game. Bamba shot 35.2 percent from three last season. It seems like a no-brainer, but with all the options for Los Angeles, they may opt to sign a forward or guard instead of a center like Bamba.


When Anthony Davis got traded to the Lakers, he initially wanted to play as a power forward and avoid playing center. If the team acquires Bamba, that will solidify Davis playing at the power forward spot all season long. With the limitations that the Lakers have on the MLE, Bamba seems like the right fit compared to the other options.

With star forward Kevin Durant requesting a trade out of Brooklyn, this could open up the door for star guard Kyrie Irving to get traded to the Lakers. It remains to be seen what the Lakers plan to do in free agency, but we will find out more as it opens up.


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