How much money the Los Angeles Lakers have available in free agency remains to be seen, but one thing that is for sure is they will have at least $23.7 million to spend.
While plenty of focus has been given to the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, and Kyrie Irving, one name that hasn’t been mentioned much is Nikola Vucevic.
Vucevic is coming off the best season of his career. He made his first All-Star team and helped lead the Orlando Magic to the 2019 NBA playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. Now, he’s an unrestricted free agent and the Lakers could be looking his way.
During the 2019 NBA Draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN spoke about Vucevic, saying the Lakers along with the Boston Celtics could have interest in the unrestricted free agent beginning on June 30:
“Orlando and Vucevic… there’s a lot of motivation for those two sides to get a deal done. Vucevic has wanted to stay there. Both the Celtics and Lakers are potential landing spots for Vucevic if he doesn’t get a deal done with the Magic.”
This would be an interesting pursuit for the Lakers should they go this route. It would give the Lakers an extremely talented frontline, pairing him with Anthony Davis and LeBron James while also moving Kyle Kuzma to more of a sixth man role. It would also give the Lakers some flexibility in the frontcourt as Vucevic is a much bigger physical presence than any other big they have.
Vucevic has always been a very talented low-post player but really expanded his game to the three-point line. He shot 36.4% from deep while also averaging career-highs in points (20.8), rebounds (12.0) and assists (3.8). He also averaged over a block and a steal per game.
Many may look at this as a step down from the likes of Irving, Walker, or Leonard, but it also could be a more feasible option for the Lakers. By all accounts, Leonard is a long shot for the Lakers while the Brooklyn Nets remain the favorite for Kyrie Irving even though there are questions arising there. Additionally, Walker seems to prefer to stay with the Charlotte Hornets.
How much money Vucevic commands in free agency could be the determining factor and it is still unclear how much money the Lakers will ultimately have. Regardless, he would give the Lakers a physical post presence who can also space the floor and control the boards, which are all things the Lakers could use.