Sitting in Crypto.com Arena last night, watching the Lakers fall to the Clippers, two things were glaringly obvious. The first would have been clear to anyone watching the game in person or on any screen — the Lakers couldn’t hit a shot. That’s been well covered.
What was plain to see in person that may not have shown up on a screen — the Clippers were just bigger and longer. Almost across the board. The Lakers often used 6’3″ Russell Westbrook and 6’1″ Patrick Beverley to guard 6’8″ Paul George and 6’7″ Kawhil Leonard, and while the two Lakers put in an admirable effort, the Clippers wings got buckets just shooting over the top of their man at points.
Looking for a fix for those problems, the Lakers are working out veteran free agent winger Moe Harkless, something Marc Stein mentioned first in his newsletter, then confirmed and details added by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Lakers hold free-agent workout and meeting with a 10-year NBA veteran – details: pic.twitter.com/BHUZOtiCyA
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 21, 2022
Harkless spent last season in Sacramento and the season before that split time with the Heat and Kings. He’s not going to solve the Lakers’ shooting woes, he shot 30.7% from 3 last season and was worse the two seasons before that. But he’s 6’7″ and a solid defender, particularly in the paint, plus maybe can rekindle some of his old pick-and-pop magic with LeBron James and Westbrook.
The Lakers have two non-guaranteed contracts they could waive to make room for Harkless (or any other free agent acquisitions): Matt Ryan and Wenyen Gabriel. One of them would have to go.
Harkless would be a Band-Aid on the Lakers’ problems, but that may be the best they can do. The Lakers aren’t making any trades in the short term and, while the Lakers saw improvement defensively between their first two games — “We’re trending in the right direction” is how coach Darvin Ham put it — there’s a question about how high the ceiling is for this roster. If by Thanksgiving the Lakers season looks lost, even with a trade, will the Lakers use their best trade assets, the two future first-round picks they can move, for a bigger, better Band-Aid?
It’s going to be an interesting early season for the Lakers, and Harkless may become part of it.