Los Angeles Lakers: free agency

Kobe Bryant describes his free-agent pitch

January, 21, 2015
Jan 21
9:04
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Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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NEW ORLEANS -- Kobe Bryant has a list of free agents that he plans to recruit to the Lakers this summer. It was revealed Wednesday, though not to anyone's surprise, that Rajon Rondo is on that list. Bryant said after a 96-80 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans that more players are on it, too.

While Bryant declined to name names, he did describe how he'll pitch those players.

"It’s a pretty simple message: it’s the best organization in the world, [one of] best brands in the world and we win championships. That’s what we do," Bryant said after scoring 14 points in 30 minutes.

"There will be much more that will be put onto that [message], in terms of X’s and O’s and style of play and things of that nature. There’s no place like winning in Los Angeles, man. This is the greatest brand in the world."

[+] EnlargeKobe Bryant
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillKobe Bryant hopes to lure talent to the Lakers with a persuasive pitch.
Other notable high-end free agents this upcoming summer include Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Goran Dragic. Kevin Love could also decide not to return to Cleveland.

Bryant tried to allay concerns about the Lakers' roster, which appears uncertain at best, especially as he is set to enter the final year of his contract with the Lakers in 2015-16.

Instead, Bryant praised Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and said free agents should have faith in his ability to rebuild.

"You’ve got to look at Mitch’s track record," Bryant said. "He’s phenomenal at this stuff. Phenomenal. So much so that the league had to protest a trade that he made. Think about that s--- ... What other GM could pull that off? So you’ve kind of got to lean on the track record of the front office and the decisions that they make. He makes really solid ones."

Bryant was referencing the 2011 multiteam trade that would've brought All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Lakers had it not been nixed for "basketball reasons" by then-NBA commissioner David Stern.

Melo opens door for Lin again

July, 11, 2014
7/11/14
6:33
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McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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It was an injury to Carmelo Anthony that led to Jeremy Lin's meteoric rise to basketball relevance in New York more than two years ago. Now it appears that indecision on Anthony's part could lead to Lin trying to recapture the magic in Los Angeles.

The Lakers still hadn't heard any official word from Anthony on Friday, according to a league source, when they pulled the trigger on a trade with the Houston Rockets to acquire Lin and Houston's 2015 first-round pick in exchange for cash considerations and the rights to an undisclosed player stashed overseas.

[+] EnlargeJeremy Lin
Andrew Richardson/USA TODAY SportsIn addition to providing consistency at point guard, one of Jeremy Lin's biggest assets is his ability to drive to the basket and convert.
While Lin hardly has the reputation now he had back in February 2012 when "Linsanity" reached its height of euphoria thanks to him dropping 38 points on the Lakers of all teams during a Friday night game at Madison Square Garden, it’s not as if he's some bum either.

There's no denying that the last we saw of him on the court, Lin struggled. Lin shot just 21.7 percent on 3-pointers in Houston's first-round playoff loss to Portland and was particularly ineffective early in the series, scoring five points on 1-for-5 shooting in Game 2 and four points on 1-for-6 shooting in Game 4 as the Rockets fell behind 3-1 before eventually losing in six games.

But that rough series, combined with the Rockets' preference for Patrick Beverly at the point, ended up clouding the player that Lin really is today.

The fact is, he's a better player than when he was setting the world on fire during that streak with the Knicks. Lin may have averaged fewer points (12.5 compared to 14.6) and assists (4.1 compared to 6.2) last season than he did when he was in New York, but he's more efficient (35.8 percent from 3, up from 32.0 percent, while his attempts have gone from 2.1 to 3.2 per game), more reliable (82.3 percent from the foul line, up from 79.8) and also more in control (2.5 turnovers per game, down from 3.6).

At 6 feet 3, 200 pounds, Lin is a bigger point guard than most think, which perhaps has something to do with his durability. Lin played in 71 games last season and all 82 games the season before that. Having a stable point guard would certainly be a welcome addition for the Lakers after Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar all missed so many games because of injuries in the last two seasons.

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Lakers mulling many 'Plan B' options

July, 10, 2014
7/10/14
7:15
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McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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It's no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers' primary plan in free agency was to bring the top two prizes available on the market in LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony into their possession. By bagging one of the top 10 players ever to play the game in James and arguably one of the top 10 most gifted scorers ever to lace them up in Anthony, combining them with Kobe Bryant in the twilight of his career (someone who fits on both of those top 10 lists), the Lakers felt as if they would automatically reboot their team back on a championship trajectory.

It was a solid Plan A. Or it technically still is a solid Plan A until James and Anthony officially inform the Lakers they have plans to the contrary. And even if James should choose to head back to Cleveland or stay in Miami or go elsewhere, and even if Anthony opts to stay in New York or entertain one of the other offers out there from Chicago, Houston or Dallas instead, it's a strategy that Bryant fully supports.

[+] EnlargeKobe Bryant, Mitch Kupchak
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty ImagesKobe Bryant says GM Mitch Kupchak and Lakers management are doing everything they can to make the moves necessary to turn the team around.
"They're going for it," Bryant said Wednesday of Lakers management. "There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. They're being extremely aggressive and they have solid concepts and plans to be able to get it done. They're pulling out all the stops to ensure that we put a contender on the floor next year. That's all you can ask for. Same thing that they ask of me: When I step out on the court, they expect me to play my heart out. Right? To prepare and to give it my best shot. Sometimes it doesn't always work out the way you want it to, but at least the intention and the commitment was there."

Of course, if the Lakers don't land their top targets this summer, they have a contingency plan in place.

The philosophy behind the Lakers' Plan B is twofold: find a way to be competitive next season to get back on track after a disastrous 27-55 campaign in 2013-14 yet at the same time, protect their cap space flexibility to be able to pursue the biggest names in the summers of 2015 (Kevin Love), 2016 (Kevin Durant) and 2017 (Russell Westbrook).

"It's a good class, but in terms of today who might be at the very top, maybe it's not as large as it might be next year or the year after," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said on draft night when asked about the free-agency market this summer. "And keeping that in mind, we structured our salary knowing that, hey, you might not get two or three guys, but we have enough room to get at least one. And if we don't have one and we choose to, we can go down the road and have flexibility next year and the year after that."

The Lakers' desire to maintain a star-based system is pretty understandable. When you are in one of the media capitals of the world and are charging $3,000 per courtside seat, there needs to be a draw on the court to expect those prices. When you are being paid upward of $200 million per season from your regional sports network television partner, Time Warner Cable SportsNet, there's a certain obligation to have not only a competitive team, but compelling characters to get people to want to tune in and watch.

The specific machinations of the Lakers' Plan B remain a mystery, however. There are many different directions in which they can head, depending on how other pieces fall into place around the league.

"We have several options," Bryant said. "Obviously depending on the timing of this process, it affects some of those. You have a plan that's flexible, but you have a Plan A and a Plan B. But some of the Plan B is affected by the timing of Plan A. So, you just kind of plan it out and wait and see what happens and respond from there."

Here's a look at several ways L.A. could end up responding if it loses out on its top choice:

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What should the Lakers do with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony out of the picture?

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Discuss (Total votes: 14,517)

1. Sign Pau Gasol
The way Gasol's season came to a premature end thanks to a bizarre bout of vertigo, it seemed as if his time in L.A. would finish with a whimper after 7½ seasons. Gasol posted on his personal website in February that, "My decision will be based purely on sporting considerations." Meaning, he wants to win. But how much money is he willing to sacrifice to do so? If the Lakers don't end up using max money on Anthony, they could try offering Gasol a big-money, short-term, two-year deal that coincides with the end of Bryant's contract. Think $10 million-$12 million range and even give Gasol a player option for the second year allowing him to skip town for greener pastures should he not feel as if the Lakers were heading in the right direction.

Not only would this allow Gasol to stay in the city he loves for its culture and community -- he has several charities in Los Angeles with which he is very involved -- but it would also keep him from having to suddenly uproot his life at 34 and settle someplace else. Not to mention, just like Gasol is being used as a potential selling point to try to bring in Anthony this summer, he'd be an intriguing potential teammate for the other big names that the Lakers go after in the coming years.

Yes, Oklahoma City and San Antonio -- two of the handful of teams vying for Gasol -- are much more equipped to win right now, but they can offer him far less money. Same goes for Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks. Putting Gasol alongside a healthy Bryant and a promising rookie in Julius Randle next season would not only get the Lakers back on track in the short term, but could help them get one of those other stars they covet in the future.

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Lakers look beyond the big fish, too

July, 2, 2014
7/02/14
9:13
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McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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The first bold moves of the Los Angeles Lakers' free agency road map are already known: They met face-to-face with Pau Gasol on Tuesday, will meet in person with Carmelo Anthony on Thursday and hope to get in a room with LeBron James as soon as they can, as well.

But what is to follow?

The Lakers, like several other teams around the league with major cap space and daring dreams (Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, Cleveland, etc.), are putting everything else on hold while they go big-game hunting.

When the James and Anthony dominoes eventual fall where they may, however, there will be other smaller pieces to fill, especially for a team like L.A., which has only six players penciled in for roster spots next season in Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre, Kendall Marshall and rookies Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson.

As much as the Lakers have centered their initial focus on those big-ticket players, general manager Mitch Kupchak has been sure to cast a wide net to let a host of players know that he would potentially like to see them wearing purple and gold next season.

This included Kupchak's reaching out to representatives to every single one of the players who were on the roster last season and are currently free agents, save for MarShon Brooks, who will play for the Sacramento Kings' summer league team, a league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Some of those players have greater interest around the league than others, of course.

Kent Bazemore appears to be the most popular of the group. The 25-year-old swingman has also already been contacted by Dallas, Atlanta, Boston, Phoenix and San Antonio. The Celtics' initial contact included a personal call from coach Brad Stevens to Bazemore. He will sit down with representatives from both the Celtics and the Spurs next week, if not more teams. Helping his cause, no doubt, is the fact that his right foot is fully healed from the surgery he underwent in April to repair a torn tendon and he will be ready for full-contact drills by the end of July, according to a league source.

Jordan Hill was also on the minds of plenty of teams, with Boston, Dallas and Houston all inquiring about the big man coming off a season in which he averaged career highs in points (9.7) and rebounds (7.4) per game despite playing only 20.8 minutes a game in Mike D'Antoni's system that didn't necessarily fit his skill set.

Nick Young heard from Atlanta along with the Lakers, as well as "several other teams registering interest," according to his agent, Mark Bartelstein.

For others, they are still waiting to see what the market bears. Chris Kaman will wait to see which teams need a backup center once they spend their big dollars on starters. Jordan Farmar has already prioritized staying in L.A., but if the Lakers feel they're set with three point guards in Nash, Marshall and Clarkson already, maybe he gets a look from his former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt, who is now manning the sidelines in Cleveland. Wesley Johnson, still searching to fully establish himself in the league after showing some bright spots last season, will search for the team with the greatest opportunity for playing time so he can continue that development. Xavier Henry, still recovering from left wrist and right knee surgeries from back in April, will have an on-court workout to prove himself with the Lakers once he's recovered, according to a league source, before he will look elsewhere.

And those are just the free agents who were actually on the team last season.

Don't forget that Kupchak has been canvassing the remaining free agents around the league -- both restricted and unrestricted -- as he awaits the chance to obtain Anthony and others.

While it might seem that it has been a relatively quiet start to free agency for the normally splashy Lake Show, there has been a lot going on beneath the surface.

Why Lakers make sense for Carmelo

June, 30, 2014
6/30/14
10:24
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McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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 Carmelo AnthonyJeff Gross/Getty ImagesKobe Bryant could use his influence to bring Carmelo Anthony to the Lakers.
As tricky as it was for the Los Angeles Lakers to clear up all the cap space that they have for this summer, now the even bigger trick becomes convincing a top-tier free agent to come in and take that money.

L.A. can’t promise much basketball-wise at the moment. They are the only team in the league without a coach, for starters. They also only have six players who can be penciled into the lineup for next season. Two of them, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, are 19-year veterans coming off of injuries. Two of them, Robert Sacre and Kendall Marshall, are fringe rotation players. And two of them, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, are rookies.

At the present time, it would appear that the Lakers need Carmelo Anthony far more than Anthony needs the Lakers.

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Which team will Carmelo Anthony choose to sign with?

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Why would Anthony uproot himself from New York when the Knicks can offer him a five-year, $129 million extension compared to the four-year, $96 million max that the Lakers could give him? Why would Anthony leave town before he even gives Phil Jackson a real chance to implement his culture and allows Derek Fisher a shot at transferring his leadership skills as a five-time champion point guard into becoming a coach on the sidelines?

Well, the Lakers’ pitch would sound something like this: come to L.A. and be next in line to be the star of the league’s foremost glamour franchise. Things might look bleak right now, Melo, but not only do we have the ability to sign you (and your buddy LeBron James too, if The King is interested) right now, but we also have the flexibility moving forward to make a run at some of the premier guys around the league who will become free agents in the coming years.

Only that message won’t just be delivered by general manager Mitch Kupchak and vice president of player personnel Jim Buss, it will be Bryant doing the convincing as well.
And that dynamic is what could prove to be the Lakers’ trump card. Bryant and Anthony have a genuine friendship stemming from their time with USA basketball. If Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley had the most star-powered friendship on the Dream Team, Bryant and Anthony filled that role on the Redeem Team when they experienced basketball nirvana together twice, taking home the gold in both Beijing and London.

Come help me get ring No. 6 and I’ll help you get ring No. 1, Bryant will say. Let’s pick our coach together, he’ll add. Heck, if you come, Pau Gasol will probably sign back on too, he’ll mention.

Bryant and Anthony got the best out of each other on those Olympic runs and could have a chance to replicate that chemistry in the NBA at a murky point in each of their careers. Bryant is coming off two major injuries. Anthony is coming off missing the playoffs for the first time in his 11 seasons in the league.

They can try to conquer together if Anthony just says yes.

Anthony already owns an offseason home in L.A., so he’s quite familiar with the territory. And in a city that produces Hollywood stars and starlets, there is no bigger show in town than when the Lakers are rolling. Bryant wants to share that spotlight. And he wants to leave the franchise in the hands of someone he deems worthy when he does walk away, most likely in two years but perhaps in three or four if his body is feeling good and the team is looking like a contender.

Bryant and Anthony are both aware that basketball is a business, but it means something far greater for the two of them.

Let me push you to somewhere you’ve never been before, Bryant will say. I need you, he’ll add. If we come together, the rest of the pieces will fall in place, he’ll bargain.

Let’s experience basketball nirvana together again, Bryant will say.

Celtics to sign Leandro Barbosa ... and that's fine.

October, 17, 2012
10/17/12
6:11
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Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Why a headline in this neck of the woods regarding news about the enemy?

Because Los Angeles Lakers fans have inquired throughout the offseason about the Brazilian Blur landing in L.A. A lot.

After all, Leandro Barbosa is a "name," and fans are often gaga for any free agent of name value. He has experience playing alongside Steve Nash (albeit several seasons ago in a very different system.) The Lakers bench was often painfully devoid of scoring last season, and Barbosa is -- perhaps literally -- nothing if not a scorer. And Lakers fans are nothing if not greedy, and in turn demand a roster of notables from Kobe Bryant downward. (This summer has only further warped any sense of grounded reality.) Thus, I imagine there will be members of the Laker Nation disappointed to see Barbosa heading to the opposite coast.

Personally, I don't think the team will miss Barbosa's services.

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Report: The Lakers agree to terms with Jodie Meeks

August, 10, 2012
8/10/12
5:14
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Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Dave McMenamin reports the Lakers and Jodie Meeks have agreed to terms on a two-year deal worth around $3 million dollars, with the second year a team option. Mark Medina of the L.A. Times had previously reported Meeks, per his agent David Bauman, wouldn't accept a deal at the league minimum, which for a player of his experience comes out to about $916,000. One week later, a number agreeable for both sides was discovered. The Lakers get a young shooting guard with two years' worth of starting experience for a relative pittance. Meeks nearly doubles his salary from last season and gets to join a title chase.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

On Aug. 1, I provided a breakdown of Meeks as a player, so feel free to talk a walk down Memory Lane. In a nutshell, he provides a legitimate backup for Kobe Bryant (you might have noticed it hurt not having one last season), outside shooting, and youth. Three areas in short supply for the Lakers, and now fortified. Throw in some improving defense and his natural scoring instincts and it's hard to knock the latest drink order during what's evolved into a basketball version of an open bar.

What remains to be seen, however, is how the addition of Meeks affects the rest of the rotation and even the roster. For example, I thought there was a chance the reserve backcourt could be newly acquired Chris Duhon paired with Steve Blake playing off-ball. Clearly, that's no longer the case, meaning one will spell Steve Nash while the other mentors Darius Morris from a seat on the bench. For players with the mileage of Kobe and Nash, lowered minutes are always a goal, but often easier said than done. Meeks on hand makes the goal more realistic. He also complicates matters for a pair of kids lower on the food chain. The likelihood of both Andrew Goudelock and second-round draft pick Darius Johnson-Odom both making the team now feels non-existent. Depending on how many players the front office decides to keep, neither may end up a Laker when it's all said and done.

But the uncertain fate of those youngsters is about the only reason to feel bummed by this turn of events. Quite the summer for Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, who've certainly earned their paychecks.

Source: Jordan Hill to re-sign with the Lakers

July, 20, 2012
7/20/12
7:45
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Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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The Lakers have agreed to terms with free agent PF/C Jordan Hill on a deal that will keep him in Los Angeles.


Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images
Jordan Hill gives the Lakers athleticism and energy off the bench.


Hill gets two years, and just under $8 million. The Lakers keep a badly needed member of their bench rotation, someone providing athleticism, energy, and shot blocking lacking outside the starting lineup. Had Hill gone elsewhere -- Minnesota was reportedly an aggressive suitor -- replacing him with a comparable player would have been nearly impossible for the Lakers, given the constraints placed on them in the free-agent market. They might have instead been forced to rely either on a totally unproven player or a retread like Jermaine O'Neal working as a second center. The latter in particular would have had disaster written all over it, because whether entering the season with Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard, the Lakers absolutely need a viable, reliable player in that role. Hill can provide relief for Pau Gasol at the 4 as well, and particularly with Antawn Jamison in the fold provides Mike Brown with more lineup flexibility on both sides of the ball.

Meanwhile, the Lakers were able to secure Hill's services at a reasonable price and a contract length keeping in line with their long-term plans. Only Steve Nash has a deal guaranteed beyond the 2013-14 season.

When the Lakers brought him over from Houston at the deadline in the Derek Fisher trade (considered by management as Part II of the Ramon Sessions acquisition), Hill was little more than a throw in. His primary value wasn't rebounding or hustle, but a contract coming off the books at the end of the season. Hill spent the first chapters of his Lakers career on the bench, recuperating from an MCL sprain in his right knee looking as if he'd amount to little more than a footnote in the story of Fisher's final day as a Laker. Then in the final home game of the regular season, Brown dusted him off, sent him out for important minutes, and Hill responded with 14 points and 15 boards in a double-OT win over Oklahoma City.

Hill stayed in the rotation during the playoffs, producing some solid games particularly in the first-round series against Denver, where three times he posted double-digit rebounding totals. Overall, he averaged 4.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 12 postseason games.

He's not a perfect player. Hill isn't terribly skilled in the post, nor does he have a lot of range on the jumper. Nobody will confuse him for Gasol as a passer, either. But in those moments Hill plays with Nash he should (like everyone who plays with Nash) thrive, whether running the floor or cutting to the rack for passes or offensive rebounds. Given all the skill the Lakers have, opposing defenses likely won't give him much attention.

One more potential negative, of course, is the matter of Hill's continuing legal issues.

He faces third-degree assault charges stemming from an alleged incident last February involving his ex-girlfriend, while still a member of the Rockets. Hill's attorney Rusty Hardin, whose clientele includes Roger Clemens and Adrian Peterson, is scheduled to appear in a Houston courtroom next week on Hill's behalf.

I won't venture a guess on where that proceeding ends up, but from a basketball standpoint, this is a major victory for the Lakers and another solid day in what has been a very productive offseason. The Lakers have remade their Big Three into a Big Four, and now have solidified the bench with Jamison and Hill's return. They can still use some help in the backcourt, but overall the Lakers have without question thrust themselves back into the championship conversation.

Source: Lakers to sign Antawn Jamison

July, 18, 2012
7/18/12
3:04
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Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Per ESPNLA's Dave McMenamin:
"Jamison will sign a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum with the Lakers ... The 36-year-old forward will bolster the Lakers' bench with scoring and veteran leadership while pursuing the first championship ring in a career largely spent as the best player on bad teams...

... Jamison had several suitors for his services, including his hometown Charlotte Bobcats, the Brooklyn Nets and the Golden State Warriors, his employer for his first five NBA seasons. For a player who has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs in 14 NBA seasons, the Lakers' chance to contend apparently was too enticing to Jamison."
Brian recently shared some thoughts on Jamison. The two-time All-Star was among the bigger "names" available, but also among the more productive players. His numbers may be trending southward, but last season's 17.2 ppg and 6.3 rebounds is nothing to sneeze at. Even if those figures -- along with his shooting percentages from the field and downtown -- continue to dip, Jamison could become the most useful Lakers reserve since Lamar Odom. And we all remember how much LO (or a credible equivalent) was missed in 2012.


Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
The Lakers really needed a bench player who can score.


Beyond his age -- and all joking aside, it wouldn't be worst thing to add another rotation player who refers to a 30 year-old as "sir" -- the biggest issue I suspect fans will raise about Jamison is his defense. And with good reason. The guy wasn't a particularly good defender in his prime, which means at 36, he's only slightly more effective slowing foes than an Antawn Jamison fathead. (Which, incidentally, can be yours for the low, low price of just $99.99!) Will that be problematic at times? I imagine so. Perhaps the chance to play for a title, an opportunity rarely presented over the course of Jamison's career, will spark a greater commitment to the defensive side of the ball. Granted, one doesn't typically discover his inner-Bruce Bowen 15 years into a career, but if increased effort led to even 10-20 percent better lockdown, that beats the alternative.

And even if Jamison remains an absolute sieve, here's the thing: Last season, the Lakers subs averaged a league-worst 20.5 ppg (more than a third of which were provided by Matt Barnes, who ain't walking through that door). Unless the bench scoring is drastically improved, the reserves' collective defense is largely irrelevant, because they'd need to hold opposing second units to 10-15 points a night to be effective. That being a completely unrealistic goal, enter Jamison, who nearly outscored the purple and gold reserves himself in 2012. He's often a volume shooter, but outside of his rookie season, he's never averaged less than 14.8 points (which came off the pine). Jamison's proven ability to unite ball and basket removes pressure off the starters and reserves alike. Simply knowing somebody can consistently score should provide the bench with a mental lift, and defenses being forced to key on Jamison should make the unit as a whole more effective. Thus, I'm guessing the points generated by Jamison will offset the inevitable buckets he'll allow in the process.

There are other pluses as well. He's a former Sixth Man of the Year. Yes, that was eight seasons ago, but success in that role requires a specific mentality. Some players adjust well to joining games already in progress. Others struggle to catch a groove. Jamison is familiar with the process, so hopefully this will help him hit the ground running. The half-season spent under Mike Brown in 2010 means he's at least somewhat familiar with the coach's style and system, which could result in a reasonably smooth transition. (Ditto Steve Nash after their 2004 season as Mavericks teammates.) While probably better suited for the four at this age, Jamison can play both forward positions, which provides depth at two spots. Durability isn't an issue, even at his age, which is important for a team lacking the depth to absorb an injury to a key player. He's also long carried a reputation as a good locker room addition, and even veteran teams can never get enough of those players.

And finally, the money involved makes this a pretty sweet deal. More often than not in life, you get what you pay for. On paper, Jamison represents more help in one player than I figured the Lakers could realistically land at that cost. Unless he seriously underachieves, this signing should prove a very useful bargain.

Source: Lakers interested in Jamison, O'Neal, Brand

July, 13, 2012
7/13/12
8:11
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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ESPNLA's Dave McMenamin has the news here.

The Lakers, says the report, are kicking the tires on a few of the backup bigs available, while continuing contact with their own free agent, Jordan Hill. On the radar include vets Antawn Jamison, Elton Brand, and Jermaine O'Neal. The hope is any of the three could be added via veteran's minimum contracts, preserving their mini-mid level "in case a Howard deal goes down involving multiple players and they are left needing to fill a glaring void," writes McMenamin. "Not only is adding a backup big man a priority because signing Hill might not work out, but because Josh McRoberts and his expiring $3.1 million contract have drawn interest from other teams in potential Howard trade scenarios."

Seems reasonable enough.

As for the three names above, a few thoughts:
  • Jamison is still a productive offensive player -- though his efficiency slipped considerably in '11-'12 -- and certainly the Lakers could do a lot worse off the bench, at least on that end of the floor. While not a major threat from downtown, he can stretch the floor a little. Defensively he's ... very bad. The Cavs were 10 points worse with him on the floor last season, and five points worse the year before. It's possible the opportunity to play meaningful games next to teammates holding him accountable will bring out his best, but that's a tough muscle to start flexing at 36, even if you want to. So he wouldn't stiffen the D, but he'd bring badly needed points off the bench, and for a little north of a million bucks, that's no small consideration.
  • Brand would be great, but there's no way he'll make it through the amnesty waivers process and provide the Lakers an opportunity to woo him. They might as well put Kevin Durant or a brachiosaurus on their "short list."
  • O'Neal has played 49 games over the last two seasons, and was last a productive player in '08-'09 with Miami. The good news -- He missed most of last season with a wrist injury, allowing his battered knees to rest. The bad -- His knees remain suspect. If healthy, O'Neal could be a pretty useful backup big, particularly defensively where he remains pretty stout, but that's a big "if." The Lakers need reliable bodies behind Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and O'Neal seems like a frontcourt depth problem waiting to happen. Yes, he'd be cheap, but it's still a bad signing if it prevents the Lakers from inking a different player who would be more productive. Plus, while having two members of the '96 Draft class (Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash) is kind of adorable, adding a third feels like a bad idea.

Chat transcript!

July, 11, 2012
7/11/12
7:44
AM PT
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Lots o' questions about Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, potential free agent acquisitions, and even Star Trek! Go figure!

Here's the link to the transcript.

Lakers chat transcript -- Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, FA's, and more

July, 6, 2012
7/06/12
8:16
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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There was plenty of ground to cover in this morning's chat, dominated (no surprise) by questions about Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, and what moves the Lakers make going forward.

Here's the link to the transcript.

Lakers reach out to Jordan Hill

July, 1, 2012
7/01/12
12:15
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak was a busy man Saturday night when NBA free agency officially began at 9 p.m. PT.

Kupchak did not wait long before inquiring about Jordan Hill, according to his agent, Kevin Bradbury.

"It was a very good discussion," Bradbury said.

Hill, who turns 25 this month, became the first big man off coach Mike Brown's bench late in the season, contributing three double-doubles over the course of six games from the second to last game of the regular season through Game 4 of the Lakers' first-round series against the Denver Nuggets.

The Lakers hold partial Bird rights to him and can offer Hill a maximum of $3,632,450 a season for up to five years.

Bradbury said Hill was in South Carolina visiting with family Saturday and will travel to Minnesota to meet with Timberwolves officials Monday. The Wolves have nearly $20 million in cap space to use to sign free agents this offseason.

Bradbury said Golden State, Orlando, Phoenix and Miami all have called to inquire about Hill as well.

The Warriors can offer Hill the full mid-level exception. The Suns and the Magic can offer Hill more money per year than the Lakers as well. The Heat only have the mini mid-level exception available to offer, starting at $3 million a year.

Despite the palpable interest from outside teams, Bradbury expressed Hill's appreciation for the Lakers.

"He knows he wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them," Bradbury said. "It's the Lakers. Who wouldn't want to play for one of the game's best franchises?"

Overall, Hill averaged 4.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in seven regular-season games with L.A., increasing those numbers to 4.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in the postseason.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Lakers extend qualifying offers to Ebanks and Morris

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
3:57
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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The Lakers didn't exactly make the splash they'd hoped for in Thursday's NBA draft -- not unless you consider trading for the 55th pick splashy, at least -- but Friday afternoon took a pair of small steps toward filling out next season's roster.

The Lakers extended both Devin Ebanks and Darius Morris qualifying offers, making both restricted free agents and significantly improving the chances they'll return to the team. The Lakers now have the right to match any offer sheet signed by either player with another team.

For Ebanks, the qualifying offer was for just over a million dollars, for Morris a little less.

Neither player is likely to attract big money on the open market, mostly because even if you put all their on-floor experience together, Ebanks and Morris haven't played enough to draw that sort of interest. Meanwhile the Lakers, short on young, inexpensive talent, have incentive to get both re-signed. Particularly Ebanks. With Matt Barnes almost certainly on his way out, the future of Metta World Peace in doubt (though self-generated reports he was traded for a bucket of KFC proved false, he's still an amnesty candidate), and limited means for adding players, the Lakers can't afford to let a small forward get away. Whether intentionally or by default, there's a very good chance Ebanks will be in line for a much larger role.

Morris is long and young, and has genuine point guard skills and makeup. While he didn't light the world on fire in his limited playing time last season -- did you expect he would?-- at 21 years old there is real potential for Morris to grow into a solid NBA player. Certainly the Lakers don't have easy access to many other players like him.

I'd be surprised if both weren't wearing purple and gold next season, or even if getting the contracts ironed out proved particularly tough.

Source: Lakers on Flynn's list

June, 27, 2012
6/27/12
10:02
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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After a rocky start to his career that has been challenged by hip surgery and two trades since being selected No. 6 out of Syracuse in the 2009 NBA draft, Jonny Flynn is seeking a fresh start this offseason and just might find it with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Flynn has identified six teams -- the Lakers, Portland, Phoenix, Toronto, Chicago, and Brooklyn -- as potential destinations and should find mutual interest from the potential suitors, according to a source close to the unrestricted free agent point guard.

Teams cannot extend any formal interest toward a player until free agency officially begins July 1.

Flynn would be an insurance policy for the Lakers should free agent Ramon Sessions sign elsewhere and the Lakers were left scrambling to find a point guard to join a roster that currently only has one point guard under contract in Steve Blake.

Flynn, 23, averaged 13.5 points and 4.4 assists per game in his rookie season with the Minnesota Timberwolves when Sessions was his backup, but has struggled to find a consistent role since then. During the 2011 draft, he was traded from Minnesota to the Houston Rockets where he was the third point guard in coach Kevin McHale's rotation behind Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic. Houston traded Flynn to the Portland Trail Blazers in March. Flynn backed up Raymond Felton and Nolan Smith in Portland before getting a chance at significant playing time late in the season. Flynn averaged 10.7 points and 7.3 assists when given the opportunity to play 20 minutes or more in four games for the Blazers, including 18 points and 11 assists in Portland's regular-season finale.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.0
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.6
BlocksE. Davis 1.3