Russian free agent center Timofey Mozgov has agreed to a four-year, $64 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Associated Press reported, sparking conflicting reactions on social media.
As the NBA’s free agent signing period opened, the Lakers moved to use a big chunk of their roughly $55 million in cap room on the six-year NBA veteran.
The 7’1”, 275-pound Mozgov was acquired by the Cleveland Cavaliers for a pair of first-round picks in a midseason trade with Denver Nuggets in 2014-15. He played a career-high 25.2 minutes per game that season with the Cavs and Nuggets combined, scoring an average of 10.6 points per game with 6.9 rebounds.
During the regular season, he started 48 games for the Cavs after returning from offseason knee surgery, averaging 6.3 points and 4.4 rebounds while making 56.5 percent of his shots. He barely played in the postseason, averaging 5.8 minutes in 13 appearances.
The Lakers are currently reeling under the pressure of the worst season in franchise history and star player Kobe Bryant’s retirement.
Acknowledging the fact that they’re unlikely to land top players like Kevin Durant, they have pinned their hopes on veterans like the almost 30-year-old Mozgov to push an impressive younger line-up— including D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, restricted free agent Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram — AP reported.
Mozgov has been struggling to recapture his form after offseason surgery to remove a cyst from his knee. His critics took to Twitter to protest against what they called an incredulous amount of money.
Los Angeles is also the city where his last name became an unfortunate verb in November 2010 after the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin threw down an astonishing rebound dunk on Mozgov’s head. Now, a player who gets dunked on in such an outrageous fashion is said to have been “Mozgoved.”
Heading into the weekend, Los Angeles had only six players under contract, though Ingram is set to sign along with the expected return of three restricted free agents — Clarkson, Tarik Black and Marcelo Huertas.