The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly view newly acquired Jaxson Hayes as similar to Dwight Howard, and if it were to work out like that previous free agent deal did, it would be a great accomplishment for all sides.
— Ahn Fire Digital (@AhnFireDigital) July 1, 2023
Sources confirm the Lakers and center Jaxson Hayes have agreed to 2 year deal. Lakers view Hayes as physical center like they had in Dwight Howard in 2020.
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) July 1, 2023
With that two-year contract, it is hoped the 23-year-old will bring an interior presence much like Howard did when the veteran helped them win the 2020 NBA championship.
Hayes just finished his fourth season with the New Orleans Pelicans, playing a career-low 47 games and averaging career-lows at 5.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 0.4 blocks per game after dealing with an early-season elbow injury. He was the No. 8 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, so the potential for upside is there.
The second year of the contract is a player option for Hayes, so a strong first season would not only help the Lakers on the court but also could put him in line for a bigger payday if he chooses to become a free agent again.
Howard signed with the Lakers as a free agent prior to the 2019-20 season, and he was a key player off the bench while winning a title in the NBA’s Orlando, Fla. bubble.
The Lakers have been one of the most active teams so far since the start of free agency on Friday, agreeing to a deal to re-sign Rui Hachimura and adding Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince and Cam Reddish.
Hachimura was a stated priority after he was a valuable contributor to the Lakers’ late-season run after arriving in a trade with the Washington Wizards midseason. Vincent became a hot commodity after standout performances in the playoffs for the Miami Heat, and his arrival could help offset the loss of Dennis Schroder, who agreed to join the Toronto Raptors.
The Lakers are still waiting on a resolution with Austin Reaves, another restricted free agent they intend to keep. They reportedly have offered him a four-year contract worth $52 million, the maximum they are allowed, and will wait to see if he receives larger offer sheets from other teams.
Keeping Reaves at a reasonable salary, in addition to the moves already made, would go a long way to making this a very successful offseason for the Lakers.