The Los Angeles Lakers have done an excellent job at building out the roster for the 2023-24 season. The team was able to keep last season’s core intact while making savvy additions that undoubtedly increase the chance of a championship push.
Los Angeles shouldn’t be done, though. There are two more roster spots that can be filled and at least one should be used before training camp starts. If the Lakers want to leave the 15th roster spot open or sign someone to a non-guaranteed deal that makes sense.
When it comes to the 14th roster spot, though, the Lakers should be looking into frontcourt talent. It looked like Mo Bamba was going to return but he ultimately signed with the Philadelphia 76ers. Bol Bol was an intriguing option but the Phoenix Suns are the favorites to sign him.
The options are starting to dwindle for the Lake Show but thankfully, a recent trade involving the Atlanta Hawks and Oklahoma City Thunder may give the Lakers an exciting young free-agent target if all goes as planned.
Usman Garuba may become an exciting free-agent target for the Lakers
This is one of those trades that are made for monetary reasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder not looking to keep every player acquired in the trade. In fact, the Thunder were already well over 15 rostered players, so the number of players that have to be waived has only increased.
Garuba is a candidate to be released by the Thunder in order to get the roster down to 15 players. The team already has enough young depth at the center position and would likely do Garuba (and his agent) the favor of letting him sign with a team that could play him.
The 2021 first-round pick hasn’t broken through the glass ceiling by any means but he has shown potential in his short NBA career that is worth monitoring. He also has not been in the best situation as he spent two years in Houston where things operated more like an AAU team than an NBA team.
Garuba’s offense abilities definitely are worth questioning but at the very least the Lakers would be getting a big with elite defensive potential. He is someone who can give the Lakers exceptional defense off the bench while Anthony Davis is sitting/not playing, which would be great for the regular season.
He has improved his shot and is shooting well in a very small sample size in his NBA career. If that offensive development continues (which it might in LA), then suddenly Garuba becomes a rock-solid rotation player in the frontcourt.
Defense wins championships and if the Lakers are choosing between a young player with elite defensive potential and a washed veteran, the choice seems pretty obvious. Garbua needs to be waived/released by the Thunder first but once he is, the Lakers should be in the market for him.