The Los Angeles Lakers currently have 13 players on the roster after an excellent showing in NBA free agency. Fans can be confident in the rotation that the front office has put together as this version of the team is even better than last year’s team.
That being said, there is still more work to be done. There are areas of the roster that can be maximized with Rob Pelinka himself saying that the Lakers are active in the free-agent center market. Pelinka continued to explain that the team wants someone with a different skill set than Jaxson Hayes, which means that the team is pursuing a stretch five option.
The reported targets thus far are less than ideal so the Lake Show may look to take its time in finding the right free agent. However, there is a young free agent currently on the market with ties to LeBron James that could be an outstanding fit.
Darius Bazley would be an outstanding free-agent signing for the Lakers.
If the Lakers are looking for a big that can stretch the floor they should look no further than Bazley. While Bazley traditionally looks like a power forward with his height, his length and shot-blocking ability make him an excellent stretch-five option for the Lakers.
Bazley is someone who could play off the bench as a stretch five or could even play in the frontcourt alongside Anthony Davis. Bazley would allow AD to play the five on offense and have more of a roaming forward-type role on defense.
Bazley’s connection with LeBron James is via Klutch Sports, which also represents James. Klutch has had noticeable pull in the decisions that the team has made in the past and that give Bazley a better chance of signing. Although, Bazley doesn’t really need that extra connection as the fit is there.
The former first-round pick was not offered a qualifying offer from the Phoenix Suns this offseason, making him an unrestricted free agent. And while he does not have much of a market right now, there definitely is untapped potential in Bazley’s game.
If there is any team in the league that knows how to elevate players and get the most out of them it is the Lakers. At only 23 years old, there is plenty of room for Bazley to grow into a solid rotation player. Just like Malik Monk two summers ago, Los Angeles could buy low on a young player that has really high upside.
After all, Bazley has been highly touted before. He was ranked 13th in his high school class by ESPN. He ranked ahead of the likes of Darius Garland, Immanuel Quickley and Tyler Herro, just to name a few.
High school prospect rankings don’t get you anywhere in the league but the potential was there. Bazley simply didn’t get the best guidance. Instead of going to college, he opted for the G League instead and that arguably hampered his development.
Then he was thrown into the league on a Thunder team that played him initially but started getting more high-profile prospects that took minutes away. Bazley was really solid in his second and third season in the league but his playing time diminished and injuries slowed him down. That led to him only playing 616 total minutes last season.
This is a guy with legitimate potential that can be a legitimate two-way guy with versatility. The Lakers would be foolish to not take a chance on Bazley in favor of a regressing veteran.