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Lakers reportedly have interest in bringing Brook Lopez back in free agency

The Lakers need to fill out their suddenly barren roster, and Brook Lopez is a perfect archetype for the type of center they’ll need.

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Anthony Davis trade left the Lakers with only six players currently under contract: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, Moe Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones (on a team option). That means the front office has a great deal of work to do to fill out the roster. One option the Lakers are apparently mulling over is former Laker — and current Milwaukee Buck — Brook Lopez.

Lopez came to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in the D’Angelo Russell trade in 2017, and immediately became a productive floor spacer from the center spot for the Lakers. His 3-point volume (39 percent of his shots) paled in comparison to what he did in Milwaukee this season (61 percent of his shots), but he still provided a good complement to the other paint-bound bigs on the roster, like Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr.

In an episode of The Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN insiders Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst both highlighted the Lakers’ interest in bringing Lopez back to Los Angeles:

McMenamin: “I just know that talking to people in the Lakers organization this week, that’s a name that has come up. This is days before the Anthony Davis trade went down, so Brook Lopez is certainly someone that intrigues at least some people in that organization.”

Windhorst: “Also, Anthony Davis prefers to play the four, and LeBron prefers to play the three. You could bring in Brook and then align it the way you want to align it.”

It makes almost too much sense to have Lopez on the Lakers. James, like Lopez’s current teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo, is at his best attacking the basket, as is Davis, meaning Lopez would be tremendously useful as a floor spacer to allow both players unfettered access to the hoop. Lopez is also an excellent rim protector on defense and a well-respected veteran locker room presence.

There is one notable elephant in the room, however — Lopez expected the Lakers to offer him a contract this offseason, but the team went with JaVale McGee and the small-ball stylings of Michael Beasley and Kuzma. The Lakers realized the error in their ways quickly by picking up Tyson Chandler off the buyout market, and Magic Johnson even admitted that letting Lopez go was a mistake. Perhaps Lopez is heartened by the Lakers acknowledging that they missed him.

It also helps that Luke Walton is no longer the head coach. Lopez was famously unhappy with his role under Walton, and that is no longer an issue. His game is a perfect fit for Frank Vogel’s offensive and defensive philosophies — the new head coach would assuredly welcome Lopez with open arms, particularly after he was a key player for the best team in the league during the regular season.

Last season, the Lakers discovered that simply getting the biggest star wasn’t enough to build a cohesive roster. Acquiring Davis was a great first step, but getting Lopez would show that the team is really on the right track. Even if Lopez doesn’t have interest in coming back to L.A., the fact that the front office is finally targeting the right kind of players is at least a good step forward.

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