Report: Lakers monitoring Hassan Whiteside as frontcourt contingency plan

Hassan Whiteside
Image: Hector Amezcua/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers seem to be in the market for a big man. They struck out on Blake Griffin who joined the loading-up Brooklyn Nets. Now, they have their eyes set on Andre Drummond who is expected to either be traded by the deadline or be bought out after it passes. The Lakers are reportedly among several contenders interested in the Cavaliers’ big man. Still, Drummond could join to opt another team, including the Nets who still need some size even with the addition of Griffin. In that case, the Lakers seem to have a contingency plan in the form of Sacramento Kings center Hassan Whiteside, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.

Judging by their signing and usage of Damian Jones, the Lakers seem to have a major interest in an athletic big who can serve as both a lob threat and a shot blocker. That perfectly aligns with Whiteside’s best skills. Averaging 8.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, Whiteside could theoretically add that skillset to a tram that at times seems to be missing the likes of JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard.

The other issue, however, is that Whiteside has never shown any consistent positive impact on teams he has played for. While he can block shots due to his length and athleticism, he is often out of position and slow to react. Offensively, he provides no passing feel, and little ability to score outside of shots at the rim. In a fairly small sample, the Kings have been outscored by 5.9 more points per 100 possessions when Whiteside is on the floor.

The other thing to note here is that while an additional big could help during the regular season as the Lakers take a cautious approach with Anthony Davis’ injury, that need becomes much smaller in the playoffs. We all saw both McGee and Howard get benched for significant stretches of the postseason with Davis sliding to the center position and the team going small against certain matchups. With Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell presumably continuing to get minutes in the playoffs and Markieff Morris beginning to find his form again, it’s hard to see a need for a big man over more playmakers or shooters. Perhaps that’s a point for signing Hassan Whiteside, knowing his gaffes won’t hurt the team in the playoffs. But that is a valuable roster spot that can go to a bigger need and a better player.

One last thing to consider is that with the trade deadline near, leaks can come from any direction. Using the Lakers as a potential destination for a buyout candidate might do just enough to make another contender give up an asset to trade for him. As always, proceed with caution.

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