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Lakers free agency rumors: Brandon Bass officially opts out of contract

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Should Los Angeles bring him back?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Bass has exercised his player option and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Bass, according to the invaluable Basketball Insiders salary pages made $3 million this season and would have made a reported $3,135,000 had he opted-in to his player option. He will likely receive a substantial raise from whatever team he signs with as the NBA's salary cap continues to skyrocket, but according to Turner, he "hopes to return to the Lakers."

The production of Bass was one of the few positives for the Lakers during the 2015-16 season. He wasn't a seamless fit as a small-ball center off of the bench out of the gate, but after a few games he adjusted to the position and was able to space the floor a bit on offense while showing a surprising ability to protect the rim a bit as well.

The veteran forward's net rating of -2.6 was the second highest of any Lakers player who appeared in more than 40 games for the team, meaning the Lakers were outscored by just under three points per 100 possessions while Bass played, no small accomplishment on a team that was outscored by an average of 10.6 points per 100 possessions last season.

Bass was additionally part of what was by far the Lakers' best lineup to play more than 80 minutes over the course of the season, a five-man unit that additionally featured Kobe Bryant, Jordan Clarkson, D'Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle that posted an offensive rating of 124.5 and outscored opponents by 7.7 points per 100 possessions. That lineup gave up 116.8 points per 100 possessions and didn't play significant minutes, but all five units that played more posted negative net ratings, further testament to Bass' value.

It wasn't just on the court where Bass produced. As sophomore forward Larry Nance, Jr. outlined during his appearance on the Land O' Lakers podcast with Brian and Andy Kamenetzky, Bass' professionalism off the floor was an additional bonus for the young team:

"I think I might have learned more from playing in the second unit with Brandon Bass than I did from anybody else this year," Nance, Jr. said when asked to explain why veterans were so valuable for a young team. "He's just a pro, in every sense of the word, he's just a pro. He carries himself the right way, knows how to handle postgame interviews.

"He's just really diligent with his work and stuff like that. To see somebody that's been so successful in the league do all the stuff, and you're younger than him, it's just kind of like 'I'd better whip it into shape,' because if he's 29, and I'm 22, why shouldn't I be doing that too?"

At 31-years old, Bass may be looking to play for a more competitive team as he signs what could be his last significant NBA contract. However, if he enjoyed his role as a productive veteran mentor, it would make plenty of sense for the Lakers to try and retain him if the price as right.

All stats per NBA.com. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.