The Lakers have a great deal of work to do to fill out their roster, and it’s anybody’s guess which positions they will choose to prioritize. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are arguably best suited to play power forward and center, which suggests that Los Angeles should target backcourt options. However, Davis is notoriously averse to playing the five, and the Lakers still need backups at every position, so be prepared for free agency rumors for all kinds of players in the coming weeks.
That includes players who aren’t technically free agents yet, such as Derrick Favors. The Utah big is due $16.9 million next season (before bonuses), but it’s a team option, and the Jazz have until July 6 to decide whether to exercise that option. That means Favors will be in no-man’s land during the beginning of free agency, and potentially stuck finding a new team once most of the money has already been handed out.
At least Favors know he will have one interested suitor outside of Utah. Tony Jones of The Athletic indicated that the Lakers had eyes for Favors should he be available:
What happens to Favors if he is forced to move on? Already, there have been rumblings of interest from the Los Angeles Lakers, where his style of play would be a nice fit with LeBron James. In fact, he projects as a fit in multiple places. He’s one of the better offensive pick-and-roll big men in the league, able to pop into space and splash jumpers or to take it to the basket and finish above the rim.
It should be noted that this was reported before the Davis trade, so it is unclear if the Lakers are still interested in Favors. However, the crux of Jones’ argument holds true. Favors is a nice pick-and-roll big and can also pop for mid-range jumpers. He isn’t elite defensively, but he has been very good, even when not sharing the floor with Rudy Gobert.
Positionally, Favors could also fit as a starter in Los Angeles. Although he started at power forward for the Jazz, he played more than half of his minutes at center, and Utah had a plus-5.5 differential in those minutes, the equivalent of a 55-win team, per Cleaning the Glass. Favors presumably would only play center for the Lakers, and he is well equipped to handle those responsibilities.
If Favors becomes available, though, it will likely happen after Los Angeles has made most of its free-agency decisions, so there probably won’t be enough cap space left for the two parties to come to an agreement. Even if the Jazz let Favors go early, he would have to take a substantial pay cut to play for the Lakers.
The Lakers definitely need a center, but that’s the deepest position in the league and they could get a reasonable facsimile of Favors for much cheaper, so they’re probably better off using their limited resources elsewhere. This reported interest in Favors is another promising sign that the Lakers have higher standards than they did last offseason, but he is another player who most likely will not actually be suiting up for this team.