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.