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Are the Lakers missing the boat on "buyout guys"?

3/4/2011

If there was a common theme in this morning's chat, it was the question of who the Lakers could add now that buyout season is in full swing. Mike Bibby is heading to Miami, Troy Murphy to Boston, and so on.

Shouldn't the Lakers be more active? Why aren't they getting in on the bidding?

With that in mind, here are a few thoughts on the player movement, and whether the Lakers are making a mistake by standing pat...

1. It is a bad idea to sign players out of fear they might go somewhere else and bolster a rival.

Do not worry about the Joneses. Handle your roster. For the Lakers to start adding players (and cutting others) in which they otherwise have no (or narrow) interest is a bad idea. Mitch Kupchak is only responsible for improving the Lakers when the opportunity is there, not preventing other GMs from improving their teams. The latter sounds nice in theory (particularly when a player is "stolen" from a rival) but in practice is a bad idea.

In a vacuum, Bibby is an improvement over the Derek Fisher/Steve Blake tandem, but the Lakers don't live in a vacuum. These days, Bibby isn't that much better, and when you factor in the learning curve he'd have with the triangle and the potential to upset the apple cart by bringing in a big name who would expect to play (or, if he's sitting, would be conspicuous in his lack of PT) isn't a great idea.

Only players who make good sense for the Lakers should be signed by the Lakers.

Carlos Arroyo, the guy Bibby replaces in Miami, would actually make more sense, if the Lakers wanted more PG depth. I'd be surprised if he ended up in L.A., but philosophically and practically is a more reasonable choice.

2. It's reasonable to consider the cost/benefit.

The Lakers have a league-high $91.5 million payroll. They fork over mounds of cash not just for their own players, but in luxury tax penalties. It is impossible to argue Jerry Buss doesn't go above and beyond to provide a winning product. At some point, though, he's allowed to stop spending, or at least decide if the cash is worth it. Is Murphy worth it, particularly when there's no natural place in the rotation for him to play?

It's not my money, so I'd chalk it up to a "no harm, no foul" signing, but I don't blame the guy signing the checks for saying no. And remember, players get a vote, and naturally gravitate to places they might actually play. Murphy doesn't have a role here, but the suddenly size-starved Celtics can put him on the floor.

3. It's easy to overrate people you've heard of.

We had a lot of questions about Dan Gadzuric, who was a buyout candidate in New Jersey, though it appears at this point he'll stay there. Gadzuric is tall, a decent defender, is tall, has some experience, and is tall. Theo Ratliff seems unlikely to play again this season, so there's a need for a "break glass in case of emergency" center should something bad happen to Gasol or Bynum. But if something bad happens to either, the difference between Gadzuric and whatever tall guy they find off the free-agent rolls isn't going to be the difference, anyway, and that assumes the other FA would actually be worse. Which isn't a safe assumption.

Which brings me to Eddy Curry. Seriously, someone asked about him in the chat. Rumors have Curry eventually signing with Miami, and Lakers fans should hope he sees time should L.A. and the Heat meet in the Finals. In that environment, putting Curry on the floor only benefits the Lakers. It was the same a couple of years ago when Mikki Moore was available, and suddenly there was talk of the Mikki Moore Sweepstakes! Except Moore wasn't any good, and the best thing you could hope for as a fan would be him playing for the other team.

The Lakers could very well have to pick up a body to help in the frontcourt, if for no other reason than to help fill out scrimmages in practice. But the need isn't urgent today, since anyone they'd get wouldn't play anyway without an injury. No need to spend the money until it's necessary.

4. Sometimes guys are desirable, but aren't an option.

Corey Brewer, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, is apparently close to signing with the Dallas Mavericks. This is bad news for the Lakers, because Brewer, as a rangy, versatile and athletic defender can help the Mavs, who are already really, really good. And while right now there's no natural place for him in the lineup -- L.A. has Ron Artest, Matt Barnes coming back, and Kobe frequently dropping to the three -- in the long term, Brewer's a guy who might have worked with the Lakers. He's young (24) and has a very specific skill (defense) most teams can use. While he's not a good offensive player, on the Lakers, Brewer could do a lot of what Barnes does, namely work off the ball, hit the glass, pick up loose balls and dump passes from more talented, double-covered teammates for easy points.

Except because he has value, he costs more, and the Lakers don't have anything to give. Stein reports Brewer will get a multi-year deal starting at about $2 million a season. Beyond their existing payroll, the Lakers don't have any exceptions available allowing them to compete with that kind of offer.

In the end, the Lakers have made the decision to roll with the crew getting them to three straight Finals, and consecutive titles. It's a reasonable choice, particularly when nobody on the market (save perhaps Brewer, who isn't an option) is a legitimate difference maker.