After signing Dennis Schröder to a veteran’s minimum contract, the Lakers have one roster spot left for the 2022-23 season, barring any other significant moves over the next week.
On the first episode of the Cole Swider show, Swider — who is presently on a two-way contract with the Lakers — said that he has seen significant interest from free agents trying to join the Lakers before training camp because several of them have shown up at the team practice facility:
“Training camp’s coming up, we have two open roster spots, and everyone in the league wants to play for the Lakers. So we’re having all these guys come in for free agent workouts and everything like that. So when they see two open roster spots on the Lakers, a lot of people are interested, playing with Lebron, playing on that stage.”
(Note: This episode came out before the Schröder signing, which is why Swider says the Lakers have two roster spots left.)
The good news for Lakers fans is that the front office actually appears to have the right archetype in mind for player no. 15. Per reporting from Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the Lakers have brought in at least four wings for workouts: Jeremy Lamb, Dwayne Bacon, Miye Oni, and Shabazz Muhammad.
Sources: The Los Angeles Lakers brought in several free agents for workouts, including former lottery picks Shabazz Muhammad and Jeremy Lamb. Dwayne Bacon, Miye Oni and others also worked out for the Lakers, @hoopshype has learned.— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) September 17, 2022
Lamb is by far the most intriguing name of the four. At 6’5, he looks like a 2-guard, though his 6’11 wingspan allows him to play up a position defensively. He’s an excellent rebounder for a wing and blocks shots at an extremely high rate. Offensively, his best skill is his floater but he doesn’t get to the rim particularly often, and he’s only been a league-average three-point shooter about once every four years. Lamb has stuck in the league for ten seasons, suggesting that he’s doing something right, but his lack of spacing could be a problem on this Lakers roster.
If Lamb’s shooting is suspect, then wait till you get to Bacon, who is probably best known for Rick Cho accidentally calling him Dwyane Wade in his introductory press conference in Charlotte. At 6’7, Bacon has some good size, and he’s still just 27 years old. Unfortunately, his effective field-goal percentage has ranked in the bottom 10 percent of wings in three of his four seasons, per Cleaning the Glass. Other than not turning the ball over, it’s hard to find much of anything that Bacon excels at.
Oni doesn’t have the problem of a poor track record, but that’s because he’s only played 672 minutes over three seasons in Utah. He took all of nine shots in the 2021-22 season, making one of them. He hasn’t even suited up in the G League since 2019-20, so Oni would be a pure flier considering what a blank slate he’s been in his NBA career.
At least Oni has been tangentially a part of the league over the last three years, because Muhammad hasn’t played for an NBA team since 2018. His best trait was as a volume scorer and he never really did that efficiently, which makes him an odd fit on a Laker team where he wouldn’t have the ball in his hands. But he’s 6’6, which was apparently the only barrier of entry for this particular workout.
Although it’s nice to see the Lakers recognizing a position of weakness and trying to address it, at this point in free agency, there are slim pickings. The Lakers can’t even really create a training camp battle because they already have 19 players on their camp roster unless they choose to waive Wenyen Gabriel, who is on a non-guaranteed deal, or one of the two-ways.
The best opportunity to find a quality wing to play next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis would have come in July, and the Lakers struck out then. Now, they’re hunting in the bargain bin. The only way out of this mess would be acquiring a wing via trade, which would solve more than one of the team’s current problems.