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

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Shabazz Napier

After spending time earlier in his career with Miami and Orlando, Shabazz Napier is having his best season so far in Portland. He is averaging 7.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists backing up Damian Lillard, but might be ready for a change of scenery to explore his potential.

By the summer time, Napier will be entering his fifth season in the NBA. That’s not veteran status necessarily, but it’s long enough to be more mature than rookies or sophomores might be. That’s the risk the Lakers would be taking wit Napier, and they would also have to be content knowing that they aren’t really getting a star, more or less a replacement.

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A fill in is probably the best word.

The only reason they would pursue Napier is simple, at least to me. I think that if they don’t want to play Josh Hart a lot of minutes yet and still see him as someone that needs to develop his game in minimal minutes or possibly in the G-League.

That’s really the only reason they would or should have to go after the former UConn guard, but it is a possible scenario. We’ve not seen Hart very often on the floor this season, and that could trickle into next year if he’s not part of a trade package for Paul George or anything like that more immediately.

Napier shoots nearly the same percentage from the floor as he does from beyond the arc, at 47% — but other than that, there’s nothing that pops out at you on paper. Again, he’d be more of a fill in, if anything. And that only happens if the Lakers don’t want Hart to fill that role and they don’t have another option.