With mere hours before free agency is set to begin in the NBA, rumors are already flying around about the Los Angeles Lakers and whether or not they will be able to sign any of their major intended targets.
Many fans are hoping for the likes of Hassan Whiteside or Nicolas Batum, but even if players like those don’t come to Los Angeles, there are plenty of other talented young players on the market. One particularly interesting option is Portland Trail Blazers forward Moe Harkless.
A combo forward who had a solid season in his first year in Portland, Harkless is now a restricted free agent and the Lakers are one of a number of teams interested in the four-year veteran according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders:
The Pistons, Wizards, Bulls, Lakers and Mavericks are among the teams interested in restricted free agent Moe Harkless, per sources.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 1, 2016
The Lakers need the most help in the front court and Harkless certainly fits that point of view as a small forward who can slide over and play some power forward as well. Though his numbers weren’t exceptional, he stepped it up in the playoffs for the Blazers, averaging 11 points and five rebounds while starting all 11 games. Also at only 23 years old, he has plenty of room to grow.
The trouble with Harkless is that he is a restricted free agent meaning the Blazers will be able to match any offer he receives. As such, the Lakers would likely have to overpay in order to try and convince the Blazers not to match an offer. If the Lakers were to sign Harkless to an offer sheet, the Blazers would have 72 hours to match.
The Lakers targeting someone like Harkless is something of a backup plan compared to other names the team has been linked with, but it is also something that may be a bit more feasible. A young versatile player like Harkless who can grow with the young core is exactly what the Lakers need.