Needing another guard heading into the 2022-23 season, the Los Angeles Lakers left a roster spot open and eventually filled it by reuniting with Dennis Schroder. The driving force behind the Lakers re-signing Schroder was his excellent play in the FIBA EuroBasket for Germany.
One year later and the Lakers are in a familiar boat. An even bigger FIBA event is going on (FIBA World Cup) and the Lakers have two roster spots with a specific need: another big man.
Instead of signing a controversial free agent to fill that need for the purple and gold, Rob Pelinka and the front office may look to repeat the move that was successful last season. Signing another FIBA standout should certainly be in the cards, and if it happens this year, it will fittingly be with a different former Laker: Wenyen Gabriel.
Lakers must consider re-signing Wenyen Gabriel after FIBA World Cup
Wenyen Gabriel has been absolutely fantastic for South Sudan in the FIBA World Cup and has helped the team make history in the process. South Sudan defeated Angola in the team’s last game of the tournament and by doing so, clinched a spot in the 2024 Summer Olympics. It is South Sudan’s first Olympics berth in any sport, let alone basketball.
The South Sudan team’s run in the FIBA World Cup has ended but Gabriel put together plenty of game tape for the Lakers’ front office to sift through. Just like Schroder a year ago, Gabriel has made the most of this opportunity and the Lake Show should be taking notice.
Gabriel averaged 9.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. Those averages came with some less-than-remarkable showings that bogged down the average. Gabriel scored more than 10 points in three of his five tournament games. In two of those three games, he recorded a double-double.
Los Angeles is reportedly looking for a big that can space the floor and Gabriel does not do that. He is a traditional center in his skillset but is undersized, which has limited his role in the NBA in the past.
That being said, the center market is not bustling with talent right now and the Lakers still need to sign someone. Instead of taking a chance on a controversial free agent who might make things worse, the Lakers might be better off just reuniting with Gabriel.
After all, he has not had much of a market thus far so the Lakers might be able to sign him to a partially-guaranteed contract. This would allow the team the ease to waive Gabriel in the future to make room for another center when an option becomes available.
Plus, there are always a dozen centers on the trade market by the time the deadline rolls around. Gabriel, at the very least, can get the team to February and allow the team to re-evaluate then.