With one month until the start of NBA free agency, few teams have more at stake than the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers’ best player, LeBron James, has suggested that he could retire this summer, and that puts added pressure on their team to dramatically improve in order to convince him to return.
They have already been linked to an All-Star guard but were preemptively shut down for a sign and trade. Now, it appears that they have set their sights on one of the best centers available in free agency, Naz Reid.
Reid has emerged as one of the best backup centers in the NBA after initially going undrafted. Despite that, the Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t expected to retain him due to salary cap constraints, and the Lakers could possibly be his next team.
Reid could help the Lakers, but landing him could be tricky.
Depending on how the Lakers play things, they could operate as either a cap space team or an above-the-luxury-tax team. If they go with the cap space route, they would essentially have to renounce most of their free agents, including D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley, though they can hold onto Austin Reaves‘ cap hold as well as Jarred Vanderbilt.
That would allow them to open up around $20 million in cap space and use some of that to sign Reid, who could earn between $10 million and $15 million a season on his next deal. Reid’s ability to space the floor would allow him to play alongside Anthony Davis, though he isn’t strictly a stretch five. He can put the ball on the floor and attack closeouts, and he is an impressive finisher around the rim.
As a starter, Reid averaged 16.5 points and 7 rebounds per game and may put up similar numbers in the Lakers’ starting five next season. On the other hand, were they to sign him, at least three of their eight players under contract would be big men. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but their frontcourt isn’t enough of an issue for them to warrant spending most of their cap space to upgrade.
Still, if they strike out on signing a big free agent, then they may see Reid as one of the better players on the market in their price range. That is probably true, though they could also look at a potential sign and trade with the Timberwolves.
One option would be for the Lakers to pick up Beasley’s $16 million team option in hopes of trading him to the Timberwolves along with a couple of second-round picks in a sign-and-trade for Reid. That wouldn’t increase their potential cap space, though it could allow them to keep Russell using his Bird rights as well as pay Reid more, helping ensure that they get him.
All in all, the Lakers’ rumored interest in Reid makes sense on some level given his fit with Anthony Davis. However, he shouldn’t be their first option this summer.