Lakers Keeping an Eye on Embattled Former Hornets Star

LeBron James, Miles Bridges, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty LeBron James, Miles Bridges, Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers may not boast significant trade assets, but the opportunity to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis could be a big enough draw to entice free agents into opening a dialogue.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Lakers are keeping tabs on free agent star Miles Bridges, who is currently being investigated by the NBA following the Hornets star pleading ‘no contest’ in a domestic violence case. 

“Miles Bridges is a restricted free agent, so he is eligible to be signed by any team. But, there is a league investigation ongoing, after he pleaded ‘no contest’ to a felony case. I’m told there are several teams, including the Lakers and Pistons, that are all monitoring his situation. And, waiting to see exactly what transpires with his conversations with Charlotte. Otherwise, he has a qualifying free agent that did expire, but he still remains a restricted free agent,” Charania said during a November 18 episode of The Rally.

Last season, Bridges provided the Lakers with 20.2 points, seven rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game while shooting 33.1% from deep and 49.1% from the field – leading many to believe Bridges would be an integral building block in the Hornets’ future.

Could Bridges Help Los Angeles?

Should the Lakers decide to look past Bridges’ off-court issues and extend a contract offer, he projects as a player who could significantly help their offense – either off the bench, or as part of the team’s starting unit.

Unfortunately for Lakers fans, Bridges wouldn’t resolve Los Angeles’ biggest issue: perimeter scoring. Instead, he would provide the team win some additional frontcourt help when pressuring the rim. According to Cleaning The Glass, Bridges shot 46% around the rim last, ranking him within the top 15% of forwards in the NBA, but his offense outside of the restricted area left a lot to be desired.

On defense, Bridges will predominantly fit in as a chaser, pressuring off-ball cutters as they curl over screens or look to create separation to receive a passer. According to Basketball Index, Bridges ranked in the 67% percentile for screen navigation and 64% percentile when operating as an off-ball chaser last season.

Lakers Implored to Bench Beverley

Outside of finding fresh talent to reinvigorate their rotation, the Lakers could look to make some minor tweaks to their current system, as they look to improve upon their sluggish start to the season.

In a November 17 article by Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, Los Angeles was urged to cut Patrick Beverley’s playing time, as his defensive upside isn’t high enough to cover up his offensive deficiencies to start the year.

“A 27.8 shooting percentage would be alarming from three—but that’s actually Beverley’s overall conversion rate. Beyond the arc, he’s down to just 23.5 percent. That’s untenable. As much as the Lakers might think they need Beverley’s point-of-attack defense, they can’t afford to have him suck the air out of their attack. If he’s not spacing the floor, then he’s adding nothing on offense, which makes you wonder how he’s seeing the fifth-most floor time on the team (28.1 minutes per game),” Buckley wrote on November 17.

Beverley is currently averaging 4.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game, but the Lakers knew what they were getting when they acquired him, so are likely comfortable with his offensive struggles given his elite point-of-attack defense.

Regardless of what the Lakers’ front office decides to do, one thing is clear: if they don’t act fast, their season could be over before New Years.

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