Lakers Rumors: Seven dark horse free agents to pursue this summer

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Nerlens Noel

Nerlens Noel has an interesting case to be made ahead of his free agency opportunity this summer. He is by no means the best center available, even as a dark horse free agent on the Lakers’ list of things to do and people to look at, but there is still a case to be made nonetheless.

Noel was caught in a bad situation in Philadelphia, and things didn’t really get better for him elsewhere despite the 76ers eventually trading him to Dallas. The Mavericks won’t have him come back after the contract he’s on is up, most likely, so that frees him up for whoever is willing to sit with him and make a deal.

The Lakers should be one of those teams.

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I think that the case can be made that Noel’s bad luck with bad teams has caused him to produce poorly throughout his couple of seasons in the NBA. By joining the Lakers, he could face less pressure on him at center, as the main focus and pressure points would be on Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram; you could add Kyle Kuzma to that list if you really wanted to.

That is the kind of environment that he needs. Plus, he’s a very young player, and the Lakers need both a bit more youth and a big man they can lean on. Now, of course, there is always the chance that investing in a guy like Noel could come back to bite the same way the Cavs thought it was a good idea to get Derrick Rose despite his dramatic injury history.

I’m not saying it won’t happen to the Lakers here, but at the very least you can offer Noel a one year deal that way if it comes down to it, neither side really gets blown up at the end of the relationship. It also buys the Lakers one more year to figure out the long-term solution at center, and that may be what they need depending on how well Ball, Ingram, and Kuzma can come together and further develop their game.

A fair deal for Noel is one year and $4 million.