After a flurry of movement in the opening hours and days of free agency, the Lakers have sat back and let things unfold while having a pair of open roster spots. Functionally, the team may have just 13 players on the roster, but with plans of keeping one spot open heading into the season, the team has one more player they can sign.
Christian Wood has been the popular name mentioned by fans considering he’s the top unrestricted free agent available. Previously this offseason, the team has been linked to him through a report from Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
That report, though, is over a week old, which may as well be prehistoric times when it comes to the constantly-changing landscape of the NBA in free agency. But on Wednesday, Dan Woike of the LA Times reiterated the Lakers interest in Wood, even if things have moved slowly.
Rob Pelinka, in a moment of clarity, made it clear what kind of player the Lakers are looking for with their likely final addition via free agency this offseason.
“We don’t want to sign someone who replicates the skills that Jaxson Hayes has,” Pelinka said at the NBA’s Summer League this month. “So if we can diversify the big position and have different looks, that would be good.”
He didn’t say “Christian Wood,” but he basically could’ve. The Lakers and the talented but perpetually available big man have been walking down the same road toward one another for more than a week.
What’s stopping the two sides then? Well, Wood is surely holding out for an offer that isn’t the veteran’s minimum the Lakers can offer. As noted by Woike in his piece, once a player takes a minimum offer, it becomes hard to play your way out of that bracket.
And there is one option now that has opened up in recent days in the form of the Bulls, who were granted a medical hardship waiver for Lonzo Ball as he is set to miss the entire upcoming season.
That is why they remain an option along with the Heat, according to Woike.
According to sources familiar with the team’s free-agent pursuits but not authorized to speak publicly, the Chicago Bulls are suddenly viewed as a potential threat that could keep the Lakers from landing Wood.
Sources also believe that the Miami Heat could be a suitor for Wood, particularly if they’re able to pull off a Damian Lillard trade. The Heat were rumored to be in the market for Dario Saric before he picked Golden State and the Lakers had interest in Saric as well.
As a result, it’s a waiting game between the two sides. Realistically, there isn’t much need to rush for the Lakers. If Wood doesn’t sign, there are a number of other center options available still.
Bismack Biyombo is also a player that has been linked to the Lakers, and he is still available. Similarly, Tristan Thompson is still a free agent after expressing interest in returning following his role on the Lakers during the postseason.
This waiting game isn’t over and likely won’t be until Wood’s decision. The Lakers are in a spot where they can afford to wait him out. And if his decision in any way is connected to a Dame trade, it might be a while.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.