The Los Angeles Lakers will have over $60 million to spend this summer in free agency, but they also have a lot of roster spots to fill. Only Lou Williams, D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., Anthony Brown, and Nick Young have guaranteed deals for next year, leaving GM Mitch Kupchak with his work cut out for him.
With the team not likely to bring back free agent big man Roy Hibbert and Tarik Black headed for restricted free agency, one immediate area of need for the Lakers is starting center. Toronto Raptors’ reserve Bismack Biyombo has turned heads during the playoffs, but according to a report from Sean Deveney of Sporting News, whoever wants to sign Biyombo will need to be prepared to fork over a substantial chunk of change:
“But you factor in the cap spike and it’s probably going to be high, I’d say, $16-17 million. It’ll be a heck of a $17 million-per-year gamble.” […] And another Eastern Conference executive said Biyombo’s price tag could wind up being even a bit higher. “With the way free agency could wind up going, three years and $60 (million) would be my guess,” he said.
For the Lakers, a three-year, $60 million gamble on Biyombo would eat up roughly a third of their available cap space, and the team will still need to re-sign restricted free agent Jordan Clarkson as well as fill out the rest of their roster. However, Deveney notes that Biyombo is exactly the kind of big the Lakers (and others) are looking for:
It also helps that some well-heeled and high-profile teams will be in need of a center who brings rim protection this summer. Boston GM Danny Ainge said that would be among the Celtics’ top targets, and Boston will be a team with interest in Biyombo. So will the Lakers, as they are known to be eagerly seeking a defensive big man to put with Julius Randle in the frontcourt.
At only 23 years old, Biyombo can grow alongside the Lakers’ young core, and the way he has stepped up for Toronto in the playoffs suggests that Biyombo may be ready for a starting role.
His averages of 12.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in the games Jonas Valanciunas has missed due to injury are certainly impressive. His offensive game is still a work in progress, but Biyombo would likely be asked to focus solely on defense and rebounding on a Lakers team featuring Russell, Clarkson, Randle, the number two pick, and whoever else Kupchak can add this summer.
Ultimately, it will be up to the Lakers’ Basketball Operations staff to determine whether or not he is worth the money he will command. Should they decide to take the gamble, Kupchak, Jim Buss, and new coach Luke Walton will then have to persuade Biyombo to make the move to Los Angeles.