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Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The Gilbert question

By Brian Kamenetzky

As far as ideas go, it's probably New Coke, the escalator to nowhere, and Andy's plan to invent and market indoor home misting machines rolled into one.


Fernando Medina/Getty Images
Would Gilbert Arenas be Magic with the Lakers this year?


So much could, and perhaps should be expected to, disappoint. Or worse.

But if he's willing to come and they're willing to crack open the house safe for a few extra bucks, the Lakers should invest in Gilbert Arenas. According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, L.A.'s interest in Arenas is, to say the least, tepid. I get it. He is a little goofy, and pretty temperamental. The history is spotty, from the gun incident/suspension to an extensive injury history. All told, over the last 300-plus games for which he's been an NBA player, Gilbert has played in barely a third of them. Then there's the question of whether or not he's actually any good anymore. It's been a while since Arenas was much more than a volume scorer, dragging some real inefficiency along the way.

He was awful in Orlando last year after the big midseason trade shipping him to the Magic and sending Rashard Lewis north to Washington.

But here's the thing: Arenas is, far as I can tell, the only (potentially affordable) free agent out there who can still score a little, and create a shot for himself (even if not like the days of yore) and teammates alike. The Lakers will improve their execution with practice and increased familiarity. They'll learn the system, they'll learn each other. It'll take some patience, but it'll happen. But at the risk of making sweeping judgments following one preseason game, the Lakers can't bleed rocks. The roster currently sports exactly one shot creator in Kobe Bryant, and only three ballhandlers in Bryant, Steve Blake, and Derek Fisher. And with Fish, there are legitimate questions about how well he'll function as a traditional guard outside the triangle.

Mike Brown tried to put a happy spin on things when asked him the other day about the hole behind Kobe at shooting guard, and his plan almost sounded plausible. He pointed out how the need to peg a guy as a 2 or a 3 or a 1 can be myopic. Skill sets, he says, are more important. I agree. The Lakers are short the aforementioned.

So if they aren't interested in Actual Gilbert, Conceptual Gilbert should be a priority, wherever he might be found.