Lakers Shopping Starter in Effort to Sign Big Name Free Agent

Getty LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly serious suitors for veteran big man Marc Gasol, and the team is shopping starting center JaVale McGee in an effort to improve their ability to sign the three-time All-Star.

McGee recently opted in on his 4.2 million player option, but could be on his way out as the Lakers look to improve their offer to Gasol, who would be a massive upgrade at the position.

Gasol was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 and has been an All-Star three times (2012, ’15, ’17). He started 44 games last season with the Raptors, averaging just over 26 minutes per game. He averaged 7.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

The Mavericks were once in play for Gasol, an unrestricted free agent, but Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that he’s focused his sights on the Lakers or returning to the Raptors.

The Knicks have also become a possibility for McGee via trade, although the Lakers would likely have to include an asset in that deal, per Marc Stein of the New York Times.

Lots of Moving Parts for Lakers to Get Marc Gasol

The Lakers will have to do a lot of handiwork to get Gasol, which could mean a sign-and-trade with the Raptors, sending McGee back to help fill the void. John Hollinger of The Athletic broke down that possibility on Twitter.

“Lakers not only need to move JaVale McGee to get Gasol more than minimum but have to do it in a sign-and-trade that sends Gasol back from Toronto,” Hollinger wrote. “Unless, that is, the Lakers are just trying to generate the $1 million or so in wiggle room necessary to sign Gasol to a two-year minimum deal with a second-year player option.”

The Lakers have made some nice signings this offseason, including Wes Matthews and Montrezl Harrell. The team will also have to fit in a max-extension for Anthony Davis at some point this offseason.

Lakers Looking to Bulk Up Center Position

GettyDwight Howard looks at Montrezl Harrell.

The Lakers have some work to do at the center position after losing Dwight Howard in free agency. Howard was a key role player last season and even started games in the playoffs. In 69 regular-season games with the Lakers he averaged 7.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks.

Howard took on a larger role for part of the postseason, starting seven games, scoring 5.8 points and snatching 4.6 rebounds per game in just a tick over 15 minutes per game.

While the 34-year-old Howard is no longer the force he once was in his prime, he carries career averages of 16.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. His deal with the Sixers is for the veterans minimum exception of $2.6 million. He landed with a contender in the Sixers but didn’t get the money he was seeking.

“This year, it was like, ‘okay, I’ll do whatever,’ but I think that I’ve earned a right to have an opinion on a contract for myself. So that’s the biggest thing,” Howard said while But I would definitely love to come back and play for the Lakers. They have the best fans in the world. It’s been amazing. My wife [Te’a Cooper] plays for the Sparks, so it would be great for us to still be in the same city and play.”

The Lakers reportedly wanted Howard back in a big way, but couldn’t make it work.

READ NEXT: LeBron James Issues Strong Reaction to Lakers’ Free Agency Moves

Read More