The Los Angeles Lakers are doing their due diligence while attempting to find the best option to replace DeMarcus Cousins. The talented big man, who was expected to be the Lakers’ starting center this season, suffered a torn ACL in early August.
While Dwight Howard has been the headliner and popular choice to fill the open spot in the frontcourt, another name worth monitoring is Joakim Noah. As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday, the former Memphis Grizzlies center is on a shortlist of players the Lakers plan to workout.
This list also includes Howard and Mo Speights, while Woj reports the team is considering Marcin Gortat as well, who’s currently overseas. But among each of the names, Noah’s recent comments could line up a potentially perfect pairing, assuming the stars align.
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Joakim Noah Working out in LA, Talks Search for ‘Right Team’
Speaking with Noah prior to Cousins’ injury, his comments made it apparent he was seeking the ideal fit with his next home, not just another team to sign with.
“I’m looking to get on the right team,” Noah told me two weeks ago.
Beyond that, the 34-year-old has also told me that he’s been working out in Los Angeles as of this past week. Those workouts were not tied to the Lakers, though, as the big man was simply getting ready for the upcoming season it seems, following a solid 2018-19 campaign.
Noah played 42 games with the Grizzlies last year, averaging 7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists over 16.5 minutes per game. He shot a strong 51.6 percent from the field, the third-highest mark of his career. Prior to his time in Memphis, Noah spent two seasons with the New York Knicks, playing in 53 games after playing on a big role with the Chicago Bulls for the first nine years of his career.
Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard or Other Option for Lakers?
Many Lakers fans appear split on the idea of bringing Howard back for a second stint with the franchise. The 33-year-old big man has still shown flashes of dominance in recent years when healthy. He played in just nine games with the Washington Wizards in 2018-19, averaging 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
“I think I’ve done an excellent job of playing basketball my whole life,” Howard told me in June.
“My resume is something that, you know, I don’t really have to speak for. I’m happy that I’ve had the opportunity to play basketball. So, I think I’ve done an excellent job of playing.”
The year prior as a member of the Charlotte Hornets, Howard looked like the dominant big man he was early in his career, averaging 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds while logging 30.4 minutes per game. If he’s able to produce marks anywhere close to what he did in Charlotte, the Lakers would be getting a steal.
But when evaluating Noah, there’s no denying that he would provide a bit of everything LeBron James and company need on the front line. Between LeBron, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma and a number of other players, there’s bound to be plenty of scorers, but Noah would provide a hard-nosed defender who’s capable of dominating the glass on both ends of the floor.
The Lakers can sign a plug-and-play option with either player, but obviously, they’re keeping their options open and working out a few different free agents.