The Los Angeles Lakers had plans thwarted by their Western Conference rivals the Golden State Warriors, who landed Dario Saric over L.A. in free agency. The Athletic’s Jovan Buha reported that the Lakers were interested in signing Saric before he inked a new one-year, $2.7 million contract. Earlier this offseason, a similar situation played out with guard Bruce Brown, whom the Lakers had targeted before he signed with the Indiana Pacers, per Buha.
“The Lakers had interest in Dario Saric before he signed with the Golden State Warriors earlier this week, those sources said,” Buha wrote on July 9, 2023. “Pelinka clarified that Los Angeles is hoping to find a player that is different than [Jaxson] Hayes from a skill-set perspective.”
Formerly of the New Orleans Pelicans, Hayes is a 23-year-old backup center best known for his defense and close-range shooting, according to ESPN.
Saric, 29, previously signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Phoenix Suns but was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder at last season’s trade deadline in package for Darius Bazley. The Croatian big man was selected by the Magic with the No. 12 pick in the 2014 NBA draft but immediately traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Los Angeles Lakers News: Team Is Looking to Sign Another Big Man in NBA Free Agency
Saric averaged 6.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists while shooting 39.1% from long distance in 14.1 minutes per game during 57 appearances for Phoenix and Oklahoma City last season. The veteran would have been an interesting bench addition for Los Angeles given his shooting ability and has the potential to be a key contributor for Golden State.
The Lakers are turning their attention to additional free agent big man options, particularly at center. Los Angeles general manager Rob Pelinka acknowledged the team is “actively in the market to add another big,” per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
“I think dimensional-izing the skills at that position would be important,” Pelinka said on July 9, per McMenamin. “So we don’t want to sign someone who replicates the skills that Jaxson Hayes has. So, if we can diversify the big position and have different looks, that would be good.”
Los Angeles Lakers Rumors: The Team Has Been Linked to Ex-Dallas Mavericks Center Christian Wood
One player the Lakers continue to be linked to is Dallas Mavericks free agent center Christian Wood. Two names the Los Angeles front office are exploring are Wood and Bismack Biyombo, per Buha. McMenamin made the case for Wood being a good fit for the Lakers’ 14th roster spot.
“One big who is still unsigned and can stretch the floor is Christian Wood, who played for the New Orleans Pelicans in Davis’ last year with the franchise, 2018-19,” McMenamin detailed on July 9. “Wood, 6-10, averaged 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds for the Dallas Mavericks last season, shooting 51.5% from the floor and 37.6% from 3.
“L.A. has two remaining roster spots open and plans to keep one vacant position for the start of training camp.”
The Los Angeles Lakers Are ‘Reluctant’ to Sign Anthony Davis to New Deal, Says NBA Exec
Pelinka publicly praised Anthony Davis during his summer league media session, but there remains skepticism that Los Angeles is eager to sign the star to a long-term extension. Davis still has two seasons remaining on a five-year, $189.9 million contract and becomes eligible to sign an extension on August 4. One Western Conference executive told Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney that the Lakers are “reluctant” to ink Davis to a new deal.
“They entered the summer with AD on the backburner,” the league exec explained. “They would like to keep it there, keep that extension on the backburner. They do not need to do it right away. I’d say they’re reluctant and you can understand that at this point.”