Former Top-10 Pick Likely to be a Free Agent Has Lakers Connection

Lakers Rumors

Getty Ben McLemore is an intriguing option for the Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers have been active since the NBA trade deadline passed but still have one open roster spot even after signing Andre Drummond. One player to keep an eye on is guard Ben McLemore who was just released by the Rockets. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, several contenders are interested in adding McLemore, and the Lakers make a lot of sense as potentially being one of these teams even if they are not specifically named.

“The Houston Rockets are planning to waive swingman Ben McLemore, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium,” Charania tweeted. “Several contenders are expected to express interest in the sharpshooting wing.”

The Lakers are in need of more shooting but the top available players in the buyout market have been big men. Over his career, McLemore has been a good three-point shooter but did have a down statistical season in Houston averaging 7.4 points and 2.1 rebounds while shooting 33% from behind the arc in his 32 appearances. McLemore shot 40% or higher in his previous two seasons with the Rockets.

Another factor: He’s also, like five current Lakers, a Klutch Sports client.

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McLemore Was the No. 7 Pick in the 2013 NBA Draft

McLemore never quite lived up to the expectations of being the No. 7 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft coming out of Kansas. The guard can still be a rotational player and has playoff experience from the Rockets’ recent postseason runs.

The Lakers need a bit of help to add McLemore to their roster as this is not a buyout situation like the team had with Drummond. McLemore was released which means another team will have the opportunity to claim the guard off waivers. He is on the final season of a two-year, $4.3 million contract with a $2.2 million salary this season. If McLemore goes unclaimed, he will be a free agent who could sign with the Lakers or another team.

The Lakers Are Reportedly Eying ‘3-and-D’ Players

The Lakers have been quiet in regards to how the team plans to use their final roster spot. With Drummond taking over as the Lakers starting center, the team is expected to pursue a wing player with their next roster move. The Athletic’s Jovan Buha and Jared Weiss reported the Lakers are likely to add a “3-and-D” player in the coming weeks.

“The Lakers are currently at $137.53 million in total salary with about $1.39 million to spare under the hard cap,” Buha and Weiss detailed. “With the Lakers roster at 14, it meets the league minimum number of players on board. The Lakers are expected to pursue a 3-and-D wing with their final roster spot, per sources.”

McLemore Shares the Same Agent as LeBron

McLemore was a key part of the Rockets’ rotation last season but went from averaging nearly 23 minutes per contest in the 2019-20 season to 16.8 minutes per game in 2020-21. The guard even started 23 games for the Rockets in 2019-20 but never found his footing in what has been an overall dismal season across the board in Houston. During a 2019 interview, former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni reflected on why he started gaining trust in McLemore.

“Ben, I’m starting to really like him,” D’Antoni said at the time, per USA Today. “…But his defense and his smartness, and knowing how to [play] vertical and stay in plays … I’m starting to trust him. And he knows when he screws up, and that’s all you can ask. But he’s been good.”

McLemore does have a connection to the Lakers given his agency is Klutch Sports. The guard shares the same agent, Rich Paul, as LeBron James, and it will be interesting to see if the Lakers star pushes the team to add McLemore. The Lakers could do a lot worse than adding the former top-10 pick with their final roster spot.