Lakers Considered Landing Spot for 26-Year-Old $26 Million Forward

Derrick Jones Jr. guards RJ Barrett

Getty Derrick Jones Jr. guards RJ Barrett

The Los Angeles Lakers are considered a landing spot for a 26-year-old forward.

In a March 26 column called “Lakers News: Ranking The Top 5 Bulls Free Agent Fits For Los Angeles,” Alex Kirschenbaum of Sports Illustrated wrote that Chicago Bulls high-flyer Derrick Jones Jr. is a player the Lakers could use next season. Jones Jr. can become an unrestricted free agent this summer if he declines his 2023-24 player option with the Bulls worth $3.4 million.

“Last season, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan was forced to cobble together backup big minutes piecemeal. When reserve center Tony Bradley emerged as a bust and Chicago failed to sign an actual backup power forward, Donovan commissioned the long-limbed, 6’5″ Jones to serve as a small-ball power forward and center,” Kirschenbaum wrote. “Though he can jump out of the gym, his height disadvantage at the position has made him more or less unplayable in the postseason. He’s worth a gander at the veteran’s minimum.”

Jones Jr. signed a two-year, $6.6 million contract with the Bulls in July 2022. He will have made more than $26 million in his career once this season ends. The lefty is averaging 5.0 points and 2.4 rebounds for the Bulls in 2022-23 while shooting 50.7% from the field, 32.4% from beyond the arc and 75.9% from the free-throw line.

Are the Lakers Going to Sign Another Big Man?

Mo Bamba is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a sprained left ankle, which is why the Lakers worked out Tristan Thompson and Tony Bradley. Thompson told Golden State Warriors All-Star Draymond Green on the March 24 episode of the “Draymond Green Show” that he had a fantastic workout with the LakeShow.

“When I came to the Lakers workout, I wanted to make sure I was in better shape than I’ve ever been,” Thompson said. “And I made sure I had my shirt off on purpose. I had my shirt off the whole workout. … So when it came to that Lakers workout, I made sure I was in great shape. Dunking the ball, windmilling. I was doing stuff where Bron was telling like, ‘Man Double T, I ain’t see this since Cleveland.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah cuz I’m ready. Like f***ing ready bro. Like I’m ready. Like I’m ready to make this happen. I’m ready to help you guys make this push.’ And I feel like what I can bring to the table to help that team is an area that I think they don’t have right now.”

Thompson has career averages of 9.0 points and 8.4 rebounds with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers and Bulls. He played with LeBron James on the Cavaliers from 2014-15 to 2017-18.

LeBron James Is Back

James made his grand return to the lineup on March 26 versus the Bulls in Los Angeles at Arena after missing a month with a right foot tendon injury. The four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists and five turnovers in 29 minutes. The Bulls defeated the Lakers by 10 points.

“Obviously, the rhythm is the most important,” James said after the Lakers lost to the Bulls. “I had a couple of drives and the ball got away from me. A couple of shots didn’t feel as good as before, obviously. But I was out for four weeks, so between that and the wind, just trying to get those things back leading to the final stretch of the season.”

James is putting up 29.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game in 48 starts this season.

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