Lakers Lose Out on $45 Million NBA Champ After Surprise Move: Report

Darvin Ham LeBron James

Getty Darvin Ham (left) and the Los Angeles Lakers missed out on signing Bruce Brown to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The Los Angeles Lakers have put together an impressive offseason thanks to a flurry of free agent moves, but not all has gone as planned for general manager Rob Pelinka. The Lakers were expecting to sign former Denver Nuggets guard Bruce Brown before the Indiana Pacers surprisingly cleared enough cap space to sign him to a two-year, $45 million deal thanks to a last-minute move.

“In the days leading into free agency, the Lakers were confident they would land former Nuggets wing Bruce Brown with a multiyear non-taxpayer midlevel exception contract, multiple league sources told The Athletic,” The Athletic’s Jovan Buha detailed on July 1, 2023. “But that changed Friday morning when the Indiana Pacers cleared additional cap space and became the favorites to land Brown. Brown ended up agreeing to a two-year, $45 million deal with Indiana, nearly double the annual value the Lakers could offer him.”

Instead, the Lakers turned their attention to another NBA finals guard: former Heat wing Gabe Vincent. Los Angeles also signed Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish and Jaxson Hayes in a series of free agent moves.

Los Angeles Lakers Rumors: Bruce Brown Was the Team’s Top Target in NBA Free Agency

The Lakers headed into free agency as one of the favorites to land Brown, but the Pacers’ offer, which was double in size, proved too good for the guard to pass up. The newest Pacers wing previously had a two-year, $13.2 million deal with the Nuggets. Brown averaged 11.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game for Denver in 80 appearances last season.

The veteran would have also provided the Lakers an additional long-range threat because Brown shot 35.8% and 40.4% from 3-point land in the last two seasons. Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reported that Brown was the Lakers’ top target and the team also explored Eric Gordon as an additional option.

“Bruce Brown, the Lakers’ top target with that full mid-level, quickly signed with the Pacers for two years and $45 million, league sources told Yahoo Sports,” Fischer wrote on July 1. “Eric Gordon was another name on the Lakers’ radar, but Los Angeles opted to move forward with Vincent.”

Gordon signed a two-year deal with the Phoenix Suns on July 2.

The Los Angeles Lakers Could Re-Sign Mo Bamba or Tristan Thompson

Despite losing out on Brown, the Lakers put together an impressive free agency period. Not only did Los Angeles add key pieces, but Pelinka was able to re-sign Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell.

The Lakers are likely done making any more significant moves and the team’s next signing is expected to be another reserve big man. Mo Bamba and Tristan Thompson remain on Los Angeles’ radar for the 14th roster spot, per Buha.

“L.A. is targeting another big man with its 14th roster spot, according to team sources,” Buha explained on July 1. “They are likely to carry 14 guaranteed contracts into the season, leaving one roster spot open. Mo Bamba, whom the Lakers waived on Thursday, and Tristan Thompson, who joined the team right before their playoff run, remain options to fill that 14th spot, according to league sources. The big man market has been dry so far during this free agency period, so the Lakers could also wait to see if better options present themselves.”

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