Los Angeles Lakers should consider Nikola Mirotic in free agency

The combination of size, youth and shooting ability makes Nikola Mirotic an interesting free agency option for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Continuing to look at the big men surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers, free agency will be interesting for them.

Even though president of basketball operations Magic Johnson said he doesn’t see the Lakers won’t be active in free agency, I still expect them to have an interest in some players, just for the sake of shaking the roster up.

One of the players the Lakers should consider? Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic.

Before his arrival to the Chicago Bulls, Mirotic was seen as a potential impact player. He was one of the best players in the Euroleague in 2013-14, averaging 12.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and shooting 41 percent from three.

He dazzled with his combo forward ability and as the league was going to more small ball, Mirotic seemed like an excellent addition to a Chicago team that needed shooting.

It never came together for Mirotic in his three seasons in Chicago.

Expected to be a key piece as Chicago pivoted from the Derrick Rose era to the Jimmy Butler era, Mirotic had a decent rookie season, but never truly jumped from there. In fact, over his first three seasons, his PER has dropped.

He’s never been an efficient player and his defense makes him tough to play. Mirotic’s three-point shooting was also inconsistent.

Entering his age-26 season, Mirotic will be hitting free agency with a chance to receive a nice bump in pay. Should Los Angeles express interest in the big man, or should they turn their attention elsewhere?

As I wrote before, Los Angeles could use some diversity in their big man rotation. They truly lack guys who can shoot and defend the rim. Mirotic covers one of those bases.

Despite his inconsistencies, Mirotic can space the floor and he’s can move decently when he has to put the ball on the floor. That addition of spacing could be huge for Los Angeles.

I also wonder if a potential point guard upgrade can do wonders for him. In Chicago, Mirotic’s point guards were Rose his first two seasons and a committee of Rajon Rondo, Michael Carter-Williams and Jerian Grant this season, with Butler the primary playmaker.

Getting someone like D’Angelo Russell and — now that they kept their pick — Lonzo Ball to create for him could make the game easier for Mirotic.

He never sported a high usage rate, but getting a point guard, or lead guard, who can remove the fat from his game and allow Mirotic to thrive as a catch-and-shoot player or someone who can be effective off of screens would be ideal.

He also fits Los Angeles’ age group. Still a young team, Mirotic is entering his age-26 season and a hypothetical three or four-year deal would only push him into his age-30 season.

As guys such as Russell, Julius Randle, and Brandon Ingram come into their own, Mirotic could still be considered a decent piece of that group.

Despite my intrigue with Mirotic, there are some concerns. He’s not a good defender and you’re bringing him to a team full of negative defenders.

There’s also no ideal rim protector behind him. Larry Nance Jr. is the best defender of the bunch, but he’s more of a space defender and not an ideal fit alongside Mirotic.

Also, Chicago has the ability to match any deal. As a restricted free agent, Chicago could match any deal offered. They’ve already expressed interest in wanting him back, which means the Lakers would have to pay a bit more to entice him to sign and for Chicago to decline re-signing him.

The Lakers could use some talent and Mirotic is an interesting prospect. He can shoot, he can be an upgrade on offense and still relatively young. If the Lakers can sign him, he’d be a perfect fit for the Lakers as another big man who can give Los Angeles a change-up in different lineups. 

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