There are quite a few holes to fill on the Lakers’ roster.
They currently have no centers and only one small forward with legitimate NBA experience — the embattled Nick Young.
Lucky for them, they get to go shopping. And they have a lot of money at their disposal when free agency begins Thursday at 9:01 p.m. PDT.
As usual, who they get with their approximately $55 million of spending power is the key. This hasn’t been a strong point for them in recent years, with the inability to land a big-name free agent.
First things first: The Lakers will not be meeting with Oklahoma City free agent Kevin Durant. They were not one of the handful of teams with whom Durant agreed to sit down, so the Lakers will have to look elsewhere for help.
They are in desperate need of a big man and will talk to Miami’s Hassan Whiteside and Atlanta’s Al Horford.
Whiteside, 27, averaged a league-high 3.68 blocks per game last season. He’s similar to the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, whom the Lakers unsuccessfully pursued last summer — strong rebounding skills (11.8 a game) but somewhat limited on offense and a poor free-throw shooter (59.8% career).
Whiteside was a 2010 second-round pick who barely played for two years in Sacramento before appearing to wash out of the league. After bouncing around the NBA’s Development League and playing overseas, he signed with Miami in 2014 and created a name for himself on defense.
The Lakers were 24th in the league in blocked shots last season (4.1 a game) and 21st in rebounding (43 a game).
Horford, 30, is a four-time All-Star who puts up steady scoring and rebounding numbers despite being a little undersized (6 feet 10) to play center. He averaged 15.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots last season and added some three-point depth, making an average of 1.1 a game while shooting 34.4% behind the arc.
A less-expensive option would be Cleveland reserve Timofey Mozgov, who displayed a handful of memorable moments in a six-year NBA career and fell out of the Cavaliers’ rotation in their recent championship run.
Toronto shooting guard DeMar DeRozan and Charlotte small forward Nicolas Batum are also on the Lakers’ radar.
DeRozan, 26, made the All-Star team for the second time last season, averaged 23.5 points and was part of the Raptors’ surge to the Eastern Conference finals.
Batum, 27, is a well-rounded player who spent seven seasons with Portland before a surprising trade to Charlotte. He averaged 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists last season while making two three-pointers a game.
The Lakers must also negotiate with restricted free agent Jordan Clarkson.
Teams with enough salary-cap room can offer Clarkson a maximum of $57.8 million over four years or $34.1 million over three years. He can sign an offer sheet with only one team, which the Lakers have the option of matching.
Or the Lakers could swoop in before he starts talking to other teams and offer a four-year contract up to $88.9 million, though that seems high after his late-season swoon.
Clarkson, 24, can also agree to a one-year deal of $2.7 million with the Lakers and become an unrestricted free agent in 2017.
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak tried to sound optimistic about free agency last week.
“I may have talked a couple times about what we tried to sell a summer ago or two summers ago — we just didn’t have that much to sell,” he said, mentioning an injury-prone Kobe Bryant and the overwhelming youth of the team.
“This year I think we have more to sell. You know we have Julius [Randle], we have D’Angelo Russell, we have Jordan Clarkson who is a year further along, Larry Nance who I think unexpectedly had a good year. We added Lou Williams, who had a good year, and now we have the No. 2 pick ...”
Duke freshman Brandon Ingram turned out to be the Lakers’ No. 2 overall pick.
Kupchak said now in the free-agent meetings, “We can focus a little bit more on the basketball side of it, because we do have more to sell.”
Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.
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