Most people headed into this offseason predicting that Brook Lopez would eventually re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency.
Once the market dried up all around him, that assumption felt all the more inevitable. Sure, the signings after LeBron James were head-scratchers, but there’s no way Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and the rest of the front office would be okay with JaVale McGee and Ivica Zubac as the primary centers on the roster.
Sources: Lopez agrees to a one-year deal at the bi-annual exception. https://t.co/MIKJKiP33L— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 8, 2018
Narrator: The Los Angeles Lakers are heading into next season with either JaVale McGee or Ivica Zubac as their starting center. This would be okay if they were tanking, but LeBron makes that virtually impossible and so the front office is left scrambling to find some kind of solution at that position.
Lopez averaged only 13 points (tying his rookie season for a career low in that category), but did so in only 23 minutes per game and with a .536 effective field goal percentage. Is he the perfect center? Absolutely not. But is he objectively better than anyone on the Lakers roster right now? Absolutely.
The amount of money he’s signing for is also worth noting.
As it stands right now, the $3.2 million he’s signing for easily fits in the cap space still left over after what’s been quite an eventful summer. So, one is left to wonder whether there was a breakdown in communication, Lopez wasn’t necessarily as interested in coming back or some combination of various circumstances. But considering how natural a fit this was given the additions this summer, it was certainly a surprise to see him wind up in Milwaukee.
The free agent market at center is not great. Channing Frye was solid and his shooting would be helpful in short spurts next year. Beyond that, well, the names are ugly enough to make one reconsider their life’s choices. Maybe James really is open to playing center, but I won’t believe it until that actually happens.
As I’ve said a few times over the course of this summer, it’s hard to complain with LeBron on the roster. But losing Lopez now after having already lost Julius Randle combined with the objectively stupid Lance Stephenson signing and, well, I’m here to complain. We’ll see how the rest of the team comes together, but this is very disappointing.