The Los Angeles Lakers head into the all-star break with a fresh roster that is more talented (and younger) than it was before the deadline. Rob Pelinka geared up for the team to put together a strong second half to make a playoff push.
Los Angeles also enters the break with one open roster spot that can be utilized via the buyout market. A buyout signing may not yield an elite player but it can still bring in someone who makes an impact in the playoffs. Just look at Markieff Morris in 2020.
The Lakers did not make any moves in the first wave of buyout signings as the team might be waiting for a very specific type of player. Lakers insider Jovan Buha recently explained the exact type of player the Lakers are looking to pursue, which may open the door for a surprising veteran to come to LA.
Whoever the next wing is will be considered by the Lakers, particularly a bigger wing. Based on the market and potential buyout candidates, there is one name that comes to mind (even if it is not the most exciting).
Rudy Gay could be a Lakers buyout candidate based on this intel.
Rudy Gay does not really fit what the Lakers have been leaning into this season. He is not part of the youth movement and is certainly past his prime. Fans remembering how bad the team was last year might be completely against this move.
That being said, this is a young roster that needs some leadership outside of LeBron James, who is not necessarily the best leader. Whoever the buyout signing is won’t have a massive role anyway, so the locker room impact alone could be worth it.
That is not to say that Gay couldn’t have an impact on the court in a limited role. While he is struggling this season, he has shown the ability to produce behind the three-point line. He is past his prime, but he can still play serviceable-enough defense on the wing.
Gay would give the Lakers their only true small forward and he does check in on the bigger side of things at six-eight. At the very least, Gay could be someone that the Lakers throw at a forward in a playoff series to pick up some fouls and rough them up. The team utilized this strategy with Dwight Howard and Nikola Jokic in 2020 and it worked great.
The Utah Jazz have no reason to keep Gay on the roster and could end up paying the rest of his current salary and his player option for next season to open the roster spot and save some money.