Earlier this week, the Lakers reportedly worked out NBA veterans Darren Collison, Mike James and Isaiah Thomas, but those aren’t the only players they’re looking at while they try to fill their final roster spots in free agency. According to veteran NBA insider Marc Stein, the team is also considering JaKarr Sampson and Tim Frazier.
Stein broke the news in his latest Substack newsletter:
Forward JaKarr Sampson, who spent the past two seasons in Indiana, and veteran guard Tim Frazier are two more free-agent names that have emerged as candidates for the two roster spots that the Lakers plan to fill.
As a reminder, the Lakers currently have four open training camp spots, but only three openings for guaranteed contracts. The team is also reportedly planning to leave their 15th roster spot open for the buyout market, and searching for a wing and point guard with the remaining two roster spots leaving one empty would give them.
Sampson wouldn’t quite fit the bill for either role, and averaged 4.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 29 games with the Indiana Pacers last season. At 6’7, he’s a hybrid 3/4/5 combo who was mostly used as a small-ball power forward and center by the Pacers. And while he certainly won’t provide the shooting part of a 3-and-D wing — he is a career 24.8% 3-point shooter who shot 3-15 from distance last season — he can provide the defense part in smaller lineups, making him a potentially interesting addition as a 13th or 14th man if the Lakers are looking for a spark of energy.
Frazier would be more of a snug fit as the team’s emergency third point guard, even if he is a less sexy name than some of the guys the Lakers have worked out. Frazier only appeared in five games for the Memphis Grizzlies last season after being signed in January, but with career averages of 5 points and 4 assists, he does fit the mold of the type of traditional floor general the Lakers may be looking for to steady the team in injury emergency or load management situations.
And, crucially for 13th and 14th men, neither player seemed to take issue with being in and out of the lineup during prior years.
Still, the Lakers will likely continue to survey their options and weigh the pluses and minuses of all the players they’ve considered, and on that front, Stein also had an update on Thomas’ candidacy for a roster spot:
I’m told that the Lakers’ private workout with Thomas, for the record, took place before he scored 81 points in a pro/am game in Seattle.
So as amusing as it would have been if the Lakers had only considered Thomas because he dropped 81 against someone somehow shorter than him, it appears that’s not quite what happened (although it’s unlikely that explosion hurt his candidacy). Thomas is also a former Laker, which seems to be an important qualification for the team this offseason, and one that could give him an edge on everyone else the team is reportedly considering.
We’ll see if that matters — and who the Lakers ultimately go with out of this group, or if they pick someone whose name we haven’t heard — over the weeks to come. In the meantime, stay tuned to our Lakers free agency rumors tracker for the latest updates.