The Lakers made a surprising addition to their roster on Monday, agreeing to a one-year veteran minimum deal with defensive stalwart Andrew Bogut.
The Lakers add a key player for the 2015 champion Golden State Warriors to a front line that already includes former All-Star center Brook Lopez and 20-year-old Croatian Ivica Zubac.
Bogut last appeared in a game for Cleveland in February. His stint there ended 58 seconds into his debut after he collided with the Miami Heat’s Okaro White and suffered a fractured left tibia. He missed the rest of the season, but he was reportedly medically cleared last weekend after he spent the summer rehabbing in his native Australia.
Bogut, 32, was the No. 1 overall pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005, and has averaged 10 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots in 11 seasons with Milwaukee, Golden State, Dallas and Cleveland.
The Lakers are among the league’s youngest teams. Bogut becomes one of the few veterans, joining Lopez, Corey Brewer and Luol Deng.
Bogut previously played for Lakers coach Luke Walton when he was a Warriors assistant coach and, for 43 games, interim head coach from 2014-16.
A more reliable rim protector than Lopez – who is known for his scoring – Bogut also fielded interest from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics and Cavaliers, according to a report retweeted by his agent, David Bauman. The deal is for a nonguaranteed $2.3 million, Bauman confirmed on Twitter.
Bogut also gives the Lakers insurance against the health of Lopez. Lopez, 29, has been remarkably durable in recent years, appearing in at least 72 games four out of the last five seasons. However, he has dealt with back issues this summer that could cause him to miss part of the preseason.
The Lakers are high on Zubac, their 2016 second-round draft pick, but he is short on experience, averaging just 16 minutes per game in 38 appearances last season as a rookie.
The Warriors traded Bogut to Dallas last summer to help clear enough cap space to sign Kevin Durant. He appeared in 26 games for the Mavericks before being traded to Philadelphia as part of a deal for Nerlens Noel. He negotiated a buyout with the 76ers that allowed him to pursue a deal with a contending team.
The Lakers finished 26-56 last season, but are likely to improve after drafting former UCLA star Lonzo Ball No. 2 overall and adding players such as Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.