Could Josh Hart be a good free agent target for the Lakers?

When the Los Angeles Lakers hosted the New York Knicks on Sunday, it was a mini-reunion of sorts, as it marked the return of Julius Randle and Josh Hart to the city they began their NBA careers in.

Randle was drafted by the Lakers in 2014 and spent his first four seasons with them, while Hart, the 30th pick of the 2017 draft, played his first two pro seasons with the Purple and Gold.

Hart did well against his former team, scoring eight points and hitting 2-of-4 from 3-point range, to go along with eight rebounds and four assists in 32 minutes.

Alex Kirschenbaum of Sports Illustrated surmised that perhaps Hart would be a nice free agent target for L.A. this summer.

Via Sports Illustrated:

“The 28-year-old defensive-oriented wing has been the ultimate glue guy in New York. The team instantly went on a nine-game winning streak after it traded for him, and really seems to be a frisky playoff pseudo-contender in the East with his addition. He has a $12.6 million player option for the 2023-24 NBA season. He’s been an outstanding fit with New York, and seems more likely than not to re-sign there if anything.

“That said, should he want to look around, Hart could be in line for a decent raise this summer. The Lakers have a few big cap decisions to make this summer, but could find a way to carve out room for Hart if they wanted to.”

Could Hart be the final piece for the Lakers?

Moving forward, the Lakers appear to have a very good and well-balanced roster, as last month’s Russell Westbrook trade reset it and replenished it with the type of functional depth it had lacked for the last couple of years.

The one thing the Lakers may lack moving forward is a 3 and D wing that can start at shooting guard and comfortably move up to the 3 when they go small.

Hart could fit the bill, as he has split his playing time between the two positions throughout his career. Although his 3-point shooting has been up and down over time, he’s hitting an incredible 58.6 percent of his treys in 13 games with New York.

During his first two seasons with L.A., he emerged as the type of role player who will not only defend and hit 3-pointers but will also make hustle plays and grab rebounds. Lakers fans developed a soft spot for him as he seemed like the type of winning role player every championship-caliber team needs.

In addition, Hart’s last season in L.A. was LeBron James’ first with the team, so perhaps it wouldn’t be too hard for the two to develop chemistry with each other.

It remains to be seen if Hart will actually turn down his player option for the 2023-24 season, if he and the Lakers would have mutual interest in reuniting and if the Lakers are able or willing to use their limited resources, such as the midlevel exception, to bring him back.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire