Los Angeles Lakers left with slim pickin's in their search for a new center
Will Dwight Howard be back in the purple and gold this season? (John Raoux/AP)
With DeMarcus Cousins tearing up his knee and scheduled to miss significant time again, the Los Angeles Lakers are scraping the bottom of the barrel for his replacement.
Just based off how last season went, hard to argue that Noah wouldn't be the most useful of these guys for the Lakers. Still crazy to contemplate the possibility of LeBron James playing alongside either Noah or Dwight Howard. https://t.co/kt2mE2qq4b
Although Cousins may have been a shell of his former self, the Lakers were still hopeful to get good production from him. They weren’t going to rely on 27 points and 11 rebounds per game like he put up in 2016-2017, but Cousins did average 16 and 8 in under 26 minutes per game last year in 30 games for the Golden State Warriors.
Needless to say, the loss of Cousins is a big hit for the Lakers plans. They were expecting some games where he would pop and be really effective, but more importantly, the Lakers are looking to play Anthony Davis at power forward more than at center.
The rotation will need to change for the Lakers regardless of what Davis wants or has been promised. He’ll need to close games at the five so the Lakers can trot out their most effective lineup.
So, what’s left on the free agent market?
As much as I’m not a fan of Dwight, he has been underrated throughout his career. He was a beast in the east for a long time. The former three-time Defensive Player of the Year is well into the back-nine of his career, but believe it or not, he is still a walking double-double.
Last year for the Washington Wizards is the only year of his 15-year career where he didn’t average a double-double. In the injury-riddled outlier of a year, he still averaged 12.8 and 9.2 in limited time (nine games).
The years of 23 and 14 with elite defense are long gone, but Howard is the most productive option for the Lakers at this time. We all remember Dwight’s short stint with the Lakers in 2012-2013, which is ironically the last time the Lakers earned a playoff appearance.
Noah has been an afterthought in the NBA over the past few years. He seemed to fall off a cliff and has only played in 124 NBA games over the past four seasons.
The Lakers may opt for Noah because of his defensive abilities. He is also a former Defensive Player of the Year and that seems to be his biggest asset at this stage. Never an offensive threat, he is best suited to be a rotational big man that can give opposing bigs fits.
The best thing about Noah is that he is still getting paid $6.4 million per year from the New York Knicks through 2021-2022. Ouch.
Gortat doesn’t have the fame or accolades as the previous two, but he has been a serviceable big man for almost a decade. The late-bloomer has always been a solid rebounder as his 8 rebounds per game would suggest. He is just about a 10 point per game guy too, so he’ll be able to chip in a couple baskets as well.
Like the others, Gortat is long in the tooth and wouldn’t have high expectations on the court. All three of the options aren’t ideal, but the Lakers can expect 20-24 minutes per night from any of these players.
Their role is going to be to play solid defense, chip in an offensive rebound or two, and find LeBron James or Davis when they have the ball. All three will be asked to set good picks and roll to the basket. Their biggest role on the team, though, is going to be spell Davis’ minutes at the five.
My guess is that the Lakers reunite with Howard to stay in the news, but any of the three options will get the job done.