Heading into free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers had to improve their overall depth, especially at the center position for the 2018-19 NBA season.
With Brook Lopez and Julius Randle set to become free agents, the Lakers selected Moritz Wagner with the No. 25 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and guaranteed Ivica Zubac‘s contract. They later signed JaVale McGee to a one-year, $2.4 million deal in free agency, but still needed a starting-caliber center.
With the free agency market drying up, only having three centers on the roster might have been by design, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:
“We may not see this on day one, but the coaching staff is eager to see our version of the [Warriors’] Death Lineup with Lonzo [Ball], Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, [Kyle] Kuzma and LeBron,” a second Lakers executive said.
Over the last couple of seasons, teams have been attempting to copy the Golden State Warriors death lineup which features Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green. While the Lakers are not trying to outshoot them like the Houston Rockets, they have stockpiled on forwards.
With McGee only averaging 9.5 minutes last season with the Warriors, Wagner and Zubac are still inexperienced. As a result, it will be interesting to see how many minutes head coach Luke Walton plays LeBron James at center.
Although James played center in small-ball situations for the Cleveland Cavaliers, they were only in spurts. With one roster spot remaining, the Lakers do have some cap space left if they want to pursue another center.