The Lakers made one step in hopes to upgrade their center position.
They agreed to a deal with Cleveland center Timofey Mozgov, according to league sources familiar with the situation. The terms weren’t readily available, but the Vertical reported the deal is worth $65 million through four years.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak reached out to Mozgov when free agency began at 9:01 p.m. PT on Thursday. It did not take long for them to proceed from there.
While plenty of attention centered on LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in guiding Cleveland to the 2016 NBA championships, Mozgov averaged only 6.3 points on 56.5 percent shooting and 4.4 rebounds. Still, the Lakers were in dire need of upgrading their center position after deciding not to resign Roy Hibbert, who posted a career-low in points (5.9) and anchoring a defense that ranked 27th in points allowed (106.8). The Lakers also had around $60 million in cap space.
Other front-court candidates included Miami’s Hassan Whiteside and Atlanta’s Al Horford. But Whiteside has narrowed his choices down between Miami and Dallas, according to The Vertical. As of Thursday, Horford did not indicate any interest with the Lakers, according to league sources.
Still, 7-foot-1 Mozgov showed promise in the 2014-15 season when he averaged 10.6 points and 6.9 rebounds in 46 games. Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw also has liked Mozgov’s game after coaching him with the Denver Nuggets.