The first big man the Los Angeles Lakers will work out is none other than Marreese Speights.
According to Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype, the Lakers will host a workout for the former NBA champion on Friday — before the likes of eight-time All-Star Dwight Howard and former Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah.
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Lakers Seem To Favor Speights Over Howard and Noah
As much flack as Speights has garnered over social media, he seems to be what the Lakers are looking for at this point — a big man who is a floor spacer. He’s definitely the least interesting name of the quartet of Howard, Noah and Marcin Gortat, but the Lakers don’t care about star power at this point. We can sit here and bring up Speight’s weaknesses on the defensive end and his lack of strength when it comes to rebounding the ball, but it’s Frank Vogel and Rob Pelinka who are making the final call — not the fans.
The fact that DeMarcus Cousins — the guy who the Lakers are trying to replace — was a big man who was capable of hitting perimeter shots probably plays a role in this. Cousins is a career 33.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc — not great, but still capable. By comparison, Speights converts on 35.6 percent of his attempts from 3-point range and converted on 38.7 percent of his 3-point attempts during the Golden State Warriors‘ 73-9 season in 2015-16.
Speights is a former NBA champion and has played in two Finals — definitely a key trait that the Lakers covet considering they expect to contend for a championship this season. The fact that Speights is a former champion is something that Howard, Noah and Gortat can’t say.
That’s not to mention that both Howard and Noah carry baggage. Howard has a disastrous past in Los Angeles and is coming off of a serious glute injury from last season, which limited him to just nine games. Noah was effective for the first time in several years with the Memphis Grizzlies, but he played in just 42 games. He has also had a rivalry with Lakers star LeBron James, calling him an expletive (NSFW) during the 2015 NBA playoffs.
As Kennedy mentioned in the tweet, Vogel and former director of player personnel Ryan West attended Speight’s workout last month. This immediately gives the the 6-foot-10 forward an advantage over Howard, Noah and Gortat, as neither of the aforementioned three have worked out for the Lakers thus far.
It’s also interesting to see how the Lakers are giving Speights precedence over the other names — especially considering they’ve already seen him work out in person as recently as last month.
Jalen Rose Says Joakim Noah Is Better Fit Than Dwight Howard
There seems to be a mixed opinion when it comes to who the Lakers should sign out of this quartet. While Howard is clearly the flashy name, others believe Noah would fit better with the current incarnation of the Lakers.
Take for instance, ESPN analyst Jalen Rose. Rose believes that Noah would fit better with the Lakers than would Howard.
“I feel Dwight Howard is too accomplished for that role in this market,” says Rose. “A future Hall-of-Famer is about to be on the biggest stage in basketball playing with LeBron James as an eight-time All-Star, as a future Hall-of-Famer, as somebody who’s been Defensive Player of the Year, as somebody that the Lakers begged to stay so badly (in 2013), I just don’t see him making the mental adjustment. I haven’t seen him make the mental adjustment where he’s going to play four minutes some nights, have two fouls and zero points in Los Angeles. I just don’t see that.”
While this is late August and all four of these names remain on the free agent market, this is no small move. This move may be the difference between the Lakers winning a title and not winning one this season.
If the Lakers are to win out in the battle of Los Angeles with the Los Angeles Clippers, they’re going to have to make sure they make the right signing when it comes to replacing former All-Star DeMarcus Cousins.
Follow D.J. Siddiqi on Twitter @DJSiddiqi