Report: Lakers intend to make a run at Al Horford

Although the Lakers season ended with Kobe Bryant scoring 60 points in his final game, the offseason officially began after the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in seven games. Now, the Lakers have their head coach and will add a couple more young players in tomorrow’s NBA Draft.

During his introductory press conference, new Lakers head coach Luke Walton expressed his excitement about the Lakers’ cap situation. Kobe Bryant’s contract is coming off the books, along with human domino big man Roy Hibbert’s. That gives the Lakers the most flexibility they have had in free agency since Perry Ellis began his first year at Kansas 20 years ago.

The Lakers have needs to fill and they are interested in a player who can certainly add stability to their roster.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Lakers will pursue Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford in free agency. Horford, 30, is coming off of his ninth NBA season, the first of which where he played a full 82 games. Horford also put up career highs in three-point makes and attempts, where he shot 34.4% behind the arc, and tied career highs in free throw percentage and blocks.

If Horford gives the Lakers the time of day in free agency, a large contributor to that may be the max contract they can offer him. But at age 30, would the Lakers see Horford as a long-term option at center that can grow along with their bevy of young players?

If the answer is yes, Horford’s fit in Luke Walton’s system should be a big reason why. Horford can stretch the floor and also distribute the basketball. Horford was second out of all NBA centers in assists and first in three-point makes. His fit with Julius Randle on the offensive end of the floor is great, being able to play the game outside of the paint, giving Randle more room to operate.

Defensively, Horford gives the Lakers somewhat of an anchor down low. In the playoffs, Horford was second in contested shots per game, with teammate Paul Millsap barely edging him out. Horford posted a DRtg of 101 and 1.5 blocks per game, both average numbers compared to other NBA big man. While he isn’t a turnstile or a Jenga tower, he isn’t the most formidable rim protector in the league.

Free agency opens on July 1st and the Lakers should be one of the most active teams out there. Their name will be tied to many of the players, but eventually those players will sign elsewhere when they sign Kevin Durant and LeBron James, err, Kent Bazemore and Hassan Whiteside? Either way, the Lakers have money to spend. As Samuel L. Jackson once said, hold onto your butts.

All stats from Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com*

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