Report: Lakers want big man for 14th roster spot, could bring back familiar face

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers may have just one more piece of unfinished business this offseason and reportedly are considering reunions with Mo Bamba or Tristan Thompson to fill out their 14th roster spot.

Once Los Angeles fills in its 14th roster spot, it may opt to enter the season with its 15th spot open.

“L.A. is targeting another big man with its 14th roster spot, according to team sources,” wrote Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “They are likely to carry 14 guaranteed contracts into the season, leaving one roster spot open. Mo Bamba, whom the Lakers waived on Thursday, and Tristan Thompson, who joined the team right before their playoff run, remain options to fill that 14th spot, according to league sources. The big man market has been dry so far during this free-agency period, so the Lakers could also wait to see if better options present themselves.”

Bamba played 12 games total for the Lakers last season — nine in the regular season and three in the playoffs. The 25-year-old did manage almost five rebounds per game in less than 10 minutes per contest in the regular season after arriving in a trade from the Orlando Magic. As recently as the 2021-22 season, Bamba averaged 10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.

Thompson got into six playoff games this year after the 32-year-old signed with the Lakers in April. He averaged 5.3 minutes per game along the way.

The fact that the Lakers have so little remaining to accomplish this early in the offseason is an excellent sign and a credit to the groundwork that’s already been done. Los Angeles was able to agree to deals with restricted free agents Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura without being subjected to expensive offer sheets.

The Lakers are also bringing back D’Angelo Russell on a reasonable deal and have added Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish and Jaxson Hayes so far.

Hayes is someone who is expected to provide frontcourt depth, and the Lakers reportedly view him similarly to Dwight Howard in 2020. The 23-year-old likely would be playing ahead of Bamba or Thompson if either of them were to return to L.A.

The Lakers are basically ready to try again with many of the same players who rallied late in the 2022-23 season to reach the play-in round before having unexpected success in the playoffs. They reportedly are planning to give Reaves an expanded role on offense moving forward.

With head coach Darvin Ham preferring a hard-nosed style of play, it will be interesting to see whether Bamba, Thompson or someone else will be chosen for that 14th roster spot.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.