Even before Anthony Davis went down with an injury, the Lakers were a team thin on bigs. While they signed a pair of centers in Thomas Bryant and Damian Jones, the former was injured to start the season and the latter has not lived up to the expectations of even a veteran’s minimum deal.
Davis’ injury, though, adds even more need to improve in the interior. While Wenyen Gabriel has continued to be a viable energy big man, he’s also dealt with injury and is still an undersized big.
The result of all that is the Lakers not having many viable big men in the short-term and potentially for much longer depending on the final diagnosis of Davis’ injury. Because of that, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the team is expected to be in the market for a big man, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, with one specific big man in Mo Bamba as a potential target.
League executives expect Orlando to hold out for a protected first-round selection or a late first-round pick to part with the 24-year-old rim presence. There are teams like the Lakers and Clippers, as well as Toronto, Sacramento and Brooklyn, that front-office personnel expect to sniff around the big-man market ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline and may be willing to cough up a pair of second-round choices for Bamba.
After starting all but two of the 71 games he played last season, Bamba has slipped out of the starting lineup this season with 21 of his 26 games coming off the bench. His minutes have taken a hit and so have his averages, as he’s managing 8.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 19 minutes per game.
On a per 36-minute basis, though, Bamba’s scoring is up a tick this season while his rebounds and blocks are down a tick. He’s shooting a career-high 50% from the field and is shooting 38.7% from the 3-point line in 2.9 attempts per game. He’s doing it as more than a corner specialist as 40% of his looks are non-corner threes, according to Cleaning the Glass.
He would be a very interesting candidate for the Lakers to potentially take a chance on. Surprisingly, Bamba stayed in Orlando last offseason — the same offseason in which he was linked to the Lakers — by signing a two-year deal worth $20.6 million with a second year that is non-guaranteed, that last part which significantly lowers the risk for any team that may acquire him this season.
His contract is small enough that a trade of Kendrick Nunn and Damian Jones is nearly enough to complete the trade. Interestingly, with the reported interest by the Lakers in Terrence Ross, a trade of Kendrick Nunn and Patrick Beverley for Bamba and Ross works financially with the draft compensation needing to also be agreed upon.
It’s the type of deal that doesn’t turn too many heads but could make a big difference for the Lakers, which is ultimately what the team needs to be focusing on in the coming weeks and months.