The Los Angeles Lakers continue to stockpile talent reminiscent of everyone’s favorite All-NBA 2000’s and 2010’s teams.
The Lakers’ latest high-profile addition will include DeAndre Jordan once he clears waivers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Jordan was traded from the Brooklyn Nets to the Detroit Pistons on Friday in a multi-pick, multi-player deal.
Once he clears waivers — which he will due to his $20 million contract — the Pistons and Jordan will agree to a $16 million buyout. Jordan will then ink a one-year, $2.6 million deal with the Lakers.
The former All-Star and All-NBA selection clearly is not the player he once was — a major reason why the Nets traded him with two years left on his deal — but he remains a physical, rim-rolling presence.
Since the Lakers allowed both JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard to depart following the team’s NBA Finals win in 2020 — Howard has since returned — the Lakers were missing that physical presence during the 2020-21 season.
At the age of 33, Jordan’s defensive presence isn’t as intimidating as it once was. His total rebounding percentage of 18.9 was his lowest since the 2012-13 season and his defensive rating of 111.0 was the worst of his 13-year NBA career.
But his ability to block shots — 1.9 blocks per 36 minutes, his highest since the 2016-17 season — and his ability to convert on second-chance and rim-rolling offensive opportunities — the 76.3 field goal percentage last season is the highest of his career and 127.0 offensive rating is the third-best of his career — remains elite.
The addition of Jordan isn’t an all-out positive addition; the veteran center can’t convert on jump shots. His offensive limitations are well-known and his defensive tenacity isn’t as strong as it was during the peak of his career.
This is a big reason why the Lakers should retain Marc Gasol moving forward.
The common consensus has been now that Jordan will sign with the Lakers, the team will move on from Gasol — who was consistently in the dog house during his debut season in Los Angeles last year.
While Gasol remains slow-footed and prone to inconsistent stretches — he shot 40.3 percent from the field before the All-Star break last season — he remains a floor-spacer. With Howard and Jordan as two of the top big men on the roster outside of Anthony Davis, it’s a major problem if the Lakers decide to cut Gasol.
Especially when one considers the Lakers will feature Russell Westbrook at point guard, one of the least-efficient jump shooting starting point guards in the league.
Although the Lakers have never fully been behind Gasol — they signed Andre Drummond in the middle of the season to replace him in the starting lineup — his offensive capabilities combined with his playmaking make him an asset.
Gasol rebounded from his slow start to the 2020-21 season and shot 45.4 percent from the field for the season and 41.0 percent from beyond the arc. He also averaged 4.0 assists per 36 minutes. In addition, his 115.0 offensive rating was second on the team among rotation players and his defensive rating of 105.0 was the third-best among rotation players.
The team’s second-best lineup last season featured Gasol at center alongside LeBron James and Davis, according to Cleaning the Glass. They outscored opponents by 12.8 points per 100 possessions.
Again, as unimpressive as Gasol may appear to be on the visual test, the guy remains a quality two-way player who clearly affects the Lakers’ other rotation players in a positive way.
Once the signing of Jordan becomes official, the Lakers will have 14 guaranteed players under contract. They also have two other players under Exhibit-10 deals. Under NBA rules, the Lakers are allowed one more signing to reach a maximum limit of 15 active players on the roster.
That means the Lakers don’t have to walk away from Gasol.
For a team that struggled with 3-point shooting and spacing last season, moving on from Gasol due to the addition of Jordan would be a silly and unneeded move.
Keep Gasol, leave that one roster spot open during the season for a potential high-profile addition, and maximize your team’s potential on the offensive and defensive end.
Simply put, this should be a no-brainer for the Lakers.
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