The LA Lakers were one of three teams that didn't make an in-season trade this year, but they still have the NBA buyout market to work with. The Purple and Gold are already in the running for Andre Drummond but given their list of injuries, GM Rob Pelinka could look to acquire more help.
Even if we discount the absences of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the LA Lakers have some deficiencies to fill. They're looking to add a center anyway but also need more shooting options, especially from range.
NBA Buyout Market 2021: 3 Potential targets for LA Lakers
Many experienced players on expiring deals moved to rebuilding teams via deadline day trades and could either be bought out or waived in the next few days. If the LA Lakers can exercise some patience, they'll probably have a better pool of players to pursue in free agency.
On that note, let's look at three players whom the LA Lakers can target if they become available.
#1 Mike Muscala (OKC Thunder)
Mike Muscala has had the best year of his career with the OKC Thunder this season. The 6'10 center doesn't demand too many touches and is a great floor spacer. He's making 37% of his 5.3 attempts from downtown this season, averaging 9.7 points per game in the process. He's not a bad defender either.
As good as he's been, Muscala finds himself on a roster that has a logjam of options at the five. The Thunder want to develop the likes of Moses Brown, Isaiah Roby and Tony Bradley. They've already shut down Al Horford for the season and Muscala could be on the buyout market soon.
Muscala has already played for the LA Lakers in the 2018-19 season, so the organization knows about his intangibles. He could be a solid stretch five for the Purple and Gold off the bench. Dennis Schroder's long-time friendship with Muscala will also allow the duo to wreak havoc together.
#2 Otto Porter Jr. (Orlando Magic)
Otto Porter Jr. has had a terrible run with injuries in the last two years but he's managed to remain a productive player nonetheless. Afforded a limited role on the Chicago Bulls this season, he's still averaged 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game on 40% shooting from distance.
Porter was moved to the Orlando Magic as part of the Nikola Vucevic trade. He's owed $28.4 million this year and is on an expiring deal. That's fairly steep for a team that is surely going to tank now, so there's a good chance that the combo forward gets bought out.
If available, Porter Jr. would be the most versatile option for the LA Lakers. He can play all three positions on the frontcourt and hold his own defensively. He's a decent catch-and-shoot option who's also got the bounce to attack the rim off the dribble. He would be an upgrade over Markieff Morris who's had an inconsistent year.
#3 Avery Bradley (Houston Rockets)
Avery Bradley played a crucial role for the LA Lakers during last year's regular season. Bradley's 3-and-D ability saw him start and close out games for Frank Vogel's unit. He didn't join the team in the bubble but that allowed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to thrive.
Bradley declined his player option with the LA Lakers at the start of this campaign and joined the Miami Heat in free agency. Injuries stunted his role there and he was moved to the Houston Rockets in the Victor Oladipo trade. The Rockets are unlikely to play Bradley either and could simply waive him in the days to come.
Despite his injuries, Bradley is a serviceable player who's averaged 8.5 points per game on 42.1% shooting from range this year. The LA Lakers have already seen what he can offer on the court. But they'll have to overlook the fact that he voluntarily chose to part ways with the organization in the offseason.