Outside of Anthony Davis, the Lakers still don’t have a single center on their roster after waiving Mo Bamba on Thursday. With NBA free agency just beginning, there is still plenty of time for that to change, but the team will likely be bargain-hunting on the veteran’s minimum as they look to fill that need in the frontcourt.
One semi-unexpected name who could be available for them? According to multiple reports, it’s Bamba himself.
My colleague Anthony Irwin reported in his Substack earlier on Friday that Bamba “wants to be back” with the Lakers, and Jovan Buha of The Athletic echoed those whispers in his big story on the first day of free agency in Los Angeles (emphasis mine):
As the Lakers look to fill their final two roster spots beyond Reaves and (possibly) Russell, the best approach would be inking two veteran’s minimum bigs as necessary depth and injury insurance. Bamba has interest in staying with the Lakers and could be an option, according to a league source.
However — and unlike his fellow possible returning Lakers, Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell — the Lakers don’t have Bamba’s Bird Rights, meaning they would have to use an exception to retain him. After signing Taurean Prince and Gabe Vincent earlier on Friday, they will likely only have veteran’s minimum contracts to use on such players. So if Bamba does indeed want to return, he would have to do so for much less than the $10.3 million the Lakers cost him on Thursday.
Is that palatable to him? Only he and his reps know for certain.
Additionally, while I believe these reports of Bamba’s interest — I wouldn’t be passing them along otherwise — I also find it interesting that we have gotten two separate leaks that he would like to return, but none indicating that the Lakers have him very high on their list of targets. Combine that with the fact that the team cut him just over 24 hours ago and how he never seemed to gain the trust of the coaching staff in Los Angeles, and it seems like the desire for a reunion may not necessarily be mutual.
We’ll see what happens, but for now, file this down as possible... if neither side has better options.
For all the latest on NBA free agency, check out our Silver Screen and Roll Lakers free agency rumors tracker. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.