After parting ways with Mo Bamba and reportedly leaning towards not picking up the option on Malik Beasley’s $16.5 million contract, the Lakers are poised to have the full non-tax-payer midlevel exception at their disposal come the start of free agency.
Using the $12.5 million exception will hard cap the team, but also open up a critical resource to add immediate help this offseason. One player the Lakers have already been heavily linked to and reportedly feel “confident” in signing using the NTPMLE is Bruce Brown.
On Thursday, a new — but familiar — name was also connected to Los Angeles in the form of Brook Lopez. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, the team has interest in targeting the center for a potential reunion.
Among the players L.A. has interest in signing with the non-tax midlevel are Denver Nuggets forward Bruce Brown and Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez, sources told ESPN.
For a Lakers’ team who just experienced the limitations that come with relying on a small roster, Lopez could immediately help check multiple boxes.
The 35-year-old finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting this past season as he posted a career-high 3.9% bock percentage, according to Cleaning the Glass. And among players who appeared in at least 60 games, Lopez had the 4th best defended field-goal percentage on shot attempts within six feet.
On offense, Lopez also continued to solidify himself as one of the best stretch-bigs in the league. Of his 364 non-garbage-time attempts from behind the arc, Lopez made a career-high 37% of his opportunities. Adding that type of shooter, especially at his position, would go a long way in helping open up the offense.
And beyond helping shore up holes on both ends, Lopez may also help keep Anthony Davis fresh throughout the year.
Davis played a career-high 99% of his possessions at center this past season and was taxed with being the team’s sole anchor on defense. Lopez would allow Davis to slot back into his preferred spot at power forward, and also enable the Lakers to trot out one of the most intimidating frontcourts in recent memory.
On the other end, Lopez’ ability to space the floor and his previous experience playing within Darvin Ham’s four-out and one-in offense would create more room for Davis and his teammates to operate in the halfcourt.
It remains to be seen how likely a reunion is however, as Lopez will highly be coveted by many teams come Friday. Arguably the crown jewel amongst a thin center market, his incumbent team, the Milwaukee Bucks, will likely work hard to retain him as will teams with much more cap space and money than the Lakers could offer.
The Lakers’ odds to sign him, then, will largely depend on how much Lopez wants to continue to play for a contender, and whether or not playing in front of his hometown again matters.
For all the latest on NBA free agency, check out our Silver Screen and Roll Lakers free agency rumors tracker. You can follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexmRegla.