Jodie Meeks and free-agent musical chairs

August, 7, 2012
8/07/12
6:02
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
The Lakers have made a couple of things clear in regards to filling out the roster:

1) They would like to find one more player, preferably on the wing or in the backcourt.

2) They will not be using their mini-mid level exception to make it happen*, short of finding value simply too good to pass up. It's hard to argue any of the players left on the market meet that standard. If they don't, all the Lakers can offer are veteran's minimum deals.

One of the names on the radar has been former 76ers shooting guard Jodie Meeks, whose outside shooting would be a valuable addition to the L.A.'s offense. But that's only if the Lakers can get him, which right now, at least, they can't. As Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times reports, Meeks' agent David Bauman says his client won't sign for the minimum. Certainly no agent worth his salt, and Bauman is a good one, would declare otherwise.

Generally speaking, players willing to accept vet minimum deals fall into two categories. First, guys who have made plenty of money over a solid career and want to win a ring. Antawn Jamison, for example, has earned about $140 million over 14 years in the NBA but hasn't played games of consequence.

Second, guys who for any number of reasons can't get a better deal.

The Lakers already landed the former in Jamison, and now will be looking for the latter. Every year, when free agency's big game of musical chairs ends and all the cap space and exceptions are gone, decent players are left without somewhere to sit. (It is, more or less, how the Lakers landed Matt Barnes a couple of summers ago.) That's the pool from which the Lakers hope to pull players -- likely to grow a little deeper under the new CBA, which squeezes backups and role players toward shorter, cheaper contracts -- but it takes time to shake out. The lure of a championship run and franchise mystique notwithstanding, most players try to get what they can, when they can. Certainly Meeks, 24, the 41st pick of the 2009 draft who in three seasons has averaged about $750,000, will rightly look for as much money and security as possible.

Bauman will certainly try to find it for him, and could very well succeed. If so, the Lakers won't get Meeks.

Then again, he might not. The same is true for other players still without a team. Either way, while plenty of names will run through the rumor mill in the meantime, odds are that final addition won't come quickly and who they ultimately get depends more on how other teams play their hands than anything the Lakers do.

*Some fans are upset the Lakers aren't willing to spend the MML, and on some level it makes sense. Why not get as many potentially useful players as possible? It's just money (and not any of ours). But accepting the idea the Lakers are allowed to put some limits on the payroll -- seems reasonable to me -- particularly when the available names are fairly underwhelming, there are advantages to holding on to the exception. Most notably, the ability to offer something more than the minimum to a player hitting the wire later in the season, thanks to a contract buyout or other roster machinations. Having a couple of (pro-rated) million more in the coffers could be useful, and might net a better player than the Lakers can get now. Granted, it might not, but it's a reasonable strategy.

And who knows? They might just use it this summer. Wouldn't be the first time the Lakers said they were done spending before spending some more.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0