Report: Hassan Whiteside is one of the Lakers’ top free agent targets

The 2016 NBA Draft is two weeks from today, meaning the NBA free agency period is three weeks away from tomorrow.

With the Philadelphia 76ers seemingly locked in on Ben Simmons, many expect the Los Angeles Lakers to add Brandon Ingram with the No. 2 overall pick on June 23, giving them a long-term option at small forward for the first time in years.

If that scenario plays out on draft night, Los Angeles will set their sights on the crop of free agent centers that this year’s class has to offer. Al Horford appears to be the top option available at the center position this offseason, but also seems like a long shot to end up in purple and gold next season.

Instead, the Lakers have their eyes on another Eastern Conference center that has been linked to them in rumors for awhile now, writes Steve Kyler from Basketball Insiders.

The narrative around Whiteside has been that he’d like to stay in Miami. He’s comfortable there, has had success there and they can pay him the most money of any team in the league. Assuming that’s the offer from the HEAT, there is a better than average chance he signs a new deal. If the HEAT try to play games, sources close to the situation say Whiteside will go shopping.

There is a sense that Whiteside is one of the top names on the Lakers’ wish list of free agents, with the Celtics also interested. The problem with trying to peg either as having some edge over the other neglects that Whiteside could be the most obtainable free agent in the class and likely gets a lot of interest beyond those two suitors.

Whiteside would an ideal fit alongside the Lakers’ young core due to his athleticism and defensive prowess, anchoring the team’s defense with his elite rim protection.

As Kyler notes, it will be tough to lure him away from Miami if they offer him a max deal. But if they try to get Whiteside to take less money, perhaps that opens the door for the Lakers to add their next starting center.

For the full article from Steve Kyler, click here.

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