Late Thursday night, the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly agreed to a four-year, $64 million deal with 29-year-old center Timofey Mozgov per Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical at Yahoo Sports. As a note, Mozgov will turn 30 in July, prior to the start of the 2016-17 season.
Several sources confirmed that an agreement had been reached between the two parties, which left fans of the team scratching their heads. The NBA free agency period was only about an hour old when the news dropped, and so, the Lakers clearly targeted the Russian center to fill a roster need. Entering the night, the Lakers did not have a center on the roster. Less than an hour into free agency, LA had Mozgov.
The # of millions the Lakers are about to pay Mozgov per year (16) is higher than the total points he scored during the 2016 playoffs (15) — Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) July 1, 2016
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While Mozgov won a title with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he only played a total of 25 minutes during the 2016 NBA Finals and did not feature for even a minute of the Cavs' dramatic Game 7 victory.
To put even more perspective on Lakers choice on Mozgov. Been told door was open on Pau's side for a return. — Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 1, 2016
The 7-foot 1-inch, 275-pound big man averaged 6.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 76 appearances during the 2015-16 regular season. The upcoming 2016-17 season will be his seventh season in the NBA, with the majority of those years coming in Denver. Mozgov originally went undrafted in the 2008 NBA draft and did not make his way to the NBA until the 2010-11 season with the New York Knicks.
New York traded Mozgov to the Denver Nuggets during that season, and the St. Petersburg-native played with the Nuggets until he was traded to the Cavs in January of 2015.
Mozgov's hefty contract may seems sizable by historical standards, but the NBA's sharp salary cap increase likely played a major role in the $64 million number. Assuming Mozgov makes roughly $15 million in his first season, the Lakers still have about $45 million to spend in free agency this summer.
On Thursday night, the fan reaction on social media was not exactly beaming with joy. Mozgov's addition to the Lakers came as a surprise, as the big man had not been rumored to be a target. Also, in being one of the first contracts to leak, the price had fans confused and shaken.
Likely, the flurry of contracts that will follow around the NBA will better explain the new environment in the league and lessen the initial frustration expressed by Lakers' fans on the first night of free agency.
Regardless of the reaction or the fan uproar, Mozgov appears to be the Lakers' center now.