The first move the Los Angeles Lakers made at the outset of free agency was coming to terms on a contract with center Timofey Mozgov. The former Cavalier agreed to a four-year deal with the Lakers.
Even though he isn’t a game-changer, Mozgov should represent a significant upgrade over recently departed center Roy Hibbert. After not getting much playing time in Cleveland last season, Mozgov is also looking to get some significant minutes under new coach Luke Walton.
Mozgov spoke to Walton and according to Mark Medina of the LA Daily News, says that Walton told him he will be a big part of the Lakers:
“He said I’m going to play a lot. I really like it,” Mozgov said. “He said I’m going to be a big part of the team on the offensive and defensive end.”
Mozgov also added that it was a tough decision to leave Cleveland, but feels he is taking a big step forward by joining the Lakers:
“I was proud to be a part of the team, but I want to play,” Mozgov said. “It was a hard decision. Of course you want to stay on a team that you know will be one of the teams that fights for a championship. But in my personal opinion, I have to take a bigger step and move forward.”
Mozgov certainly sounds excited to be joining the Lakers and will need to thrive in a much larger role than what he experienced last season. In 2015, he was a huge part of the Cavaliers’ first run to the NBA Finals but struggled after rushing back from knee surgery last season.
If he is able to return to his late-2015 form, Mozgov will play a huge role for the Lakers as a rim protector, rebounder, and finisher. Walton will definitely look to find a way to take advantage of his big man.