Los Angeles Lakers Had No Choice with Timofey Mozgov’s Massive Contract

The Los Angeles Lakers cannon-balled into free agency late Thursday night by inking one of the most disconcerting contracts in recent NBA history. 

In desperate need of a traditional big man in their starting lineup, Los Angeles quickly locked Cleveland Cavaliers center Timofey Mozgov into a four-year, $64 million contract, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski:

The Lakers, projected to have close to $56 million in cap space, focused on their need at center to complement power forward Julius Randle, point guard D'Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram, the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft. Mozgov has a reputation as a hardworking, energetic player, and he would seem to be a good fit with such a young core.

With his 30th birthday two weeks away, and the Lakers in clear need of a reliable interior presence, Mozgov has the opportunity to fill a void, play big minutes and prove last year’s struggles were a fluke. 

But that doesn't mean serious questions aren't in order, or that Los Angeles can go to sleep knowing exactly what it paid for.

After he played 81 games in 2015 with the Denver Nuggets and Cavaliers—and finished seventh among all centers in Defensive Real Plus-Minus—offseason knee surgery all but ruined Mozgov’s 2016 campaign. He plummeted to 70th in DRPM and saw his postseason PER fall from 17.9 to 4.7. 

Here’s what ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported earlier this year (h/t ESPN Cleveland's Tony Cartagena) about Mozgov’s troublesome knee:

The surgery that they performed last summer was not a success but he felt pressure to play really well because he saw a massive paycheck coming his way. It was the combination of worrying about the contract and an unhealthy knee and a changing role on the team that all contributed to him having a down year.

When healthy, Mozgov is perfectly fi...

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