The Los Angeles Lakers are exploring their options at center, which could lead the team to cut ties with veteran big man Marc Gasol.
On Tuesday, NBA reporter Marc Stein doubled down on his report that the Lakers are pursuing other centers, which could lead to the team saying goodbye to Gasol. Here’s what Stein had to say in his latest newsletter following Rajon Rondo signing with the team.
When he formally re-signs with the Los Angeles Lakers after negotiating a buyout with Memphis, Rajon Rondo (35) will become the ninth Laker in his 30s on a roster expected to feature 14 players (and two more on two-way contracts). He’ll join Carmelo Anthony (37), LeBron James (36), Marc Gasol (36), Trevor Ariza (36), Dwight Howard (35), Wayne Ellington (33), Russell Westbrook (32) and Kent Bazemore (32). It’s a number, though, that could still be adjusted if the Lakers and Gasol ultimately part ways. As discussed in a recent This Week In Basketball column, league sources say that L.A. has explored the pursuit of other centers even though Gasol has one year left on his original two-year deal.
The Lakers signed Dwight Howard this offseason. Howard averaged 7.0 points and 8.4 rebounds last season with Philadelphia. Howard provided nearly 20 minutes per game, 7.5 rebounds and 7.3 rebounds with the Lakers in 2020 when the Lakers won the title.
DeAndre Jordan Possible Target for Lakers
DeAndre Jordan has popped as a possible option to add depth to the center position for the Lakers, per Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
The 33-year-old big man is currently employed by the Nets but it working towards a buyout, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Center DeAndre Jordan and the Nets are working toward parting ways via contract buyout, sources tell me and Alex Schiffer. Jordan is increasingly unlikely to be part of the organization moving forward, but the sides have not made a final decision. Jordan did not appear in the Nets’ last 16 games of the 2020-21 season and playoffs.
Jordan averaged just 7.5 points and 7.5 rebounds last season and still has two years and nearly $20 million left on his deal. Jordan could fill a role similar to what JaVale McGee did with Howard during the Lakers’ most recent title run. And with so many high-IQ passers, Jordan could be lethal around the rim on lobs.
Some other notable big men still available are Aron Baynes, Ed Davis, Bismack Biyombo and Harry Giles. Former Laker DeMarcus Cousins is also a free agent.
Gasol Has Had Complicated Relationship With Lakers
Things haven’t exactly been smooth for Gasol since he arrived in Los Angeles. Last season Gasol averaged just over 19 minutes per game, starting 42 of the 52 games he played in. However, his role on the team got very complicated once Andre Drummond was signed.
The team reportedly made Drummond a promise that he’d start when he signed following a buyout, so Gasol went from the starter to the end of the bench on many nights. That nearly led to him requesting a buyout to pursue success elsewhere.
“Things can change quickly in the NBA, just as they have changed for me,” Gasol said when questioned about seeking a buyout in April. “But, I’m committed to this team. It’s a hard pill to swallow because I know I’m going to be out of the lineup at some point. It’s never easy on a player. As a basketball player, you want to play. You want to contribute, especially when you made that commitment for that reason.”
Following the Olympics last month, Gasol said he planned on returning to the Lakers to play out the final year of his contract. However, that ball seems to be more in the team’s court than his at this point.