Los Angeles Lakers: Yi Jianlian

Free Agent Profiles: Power forwards

July, 26, 2011
7/26/11
11:30
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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If there's a position on the floor where the Lakers have quality depth, it's power forward. When reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom is the backup, clearly things are going well. Between L.O. and Pau Gasol, L.A. likely sports the league's best two-man rotation at the 4. Still, it wouldn't hurt for them to find a viable third PF for the roster, not so much to bolster the Gasol/Odom combo -- though someone to lighten the load is always welcome -- but as a hedge against injury, whether at the 4 or the 5.


Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images
It's hard to do much better at power forward than a rotation of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, but more depth can't hurt.


The time Andrew Bynum spent sidelined last season proved pivotal, sucking heaps of energy from Gasol's legs and setting the table for what would eventually become a physical and mental meltdown in the postseason. While he has a chance to start next season healthier than virtually any in his career, Bynum still can't be counted on to stay that way. The Lakers have to assume he'll miss some games, meaning they clearly need a backup center more viable than Theo Ratliff proved last season. It also means a little more support at PF could constitute a reasonable use of roster space and resources, even while representing a lower rung on the priority ladder.

We've touched on the point guards, shooting guards and small forwards. As is always the case, it will be virtually impossible for the Lakers to land any of the pricier names available without a major discount or a sign-and-trade. Unlike other areas of need, though, attracting higher end talent, even players starving for rings, will be tougher because available playing time at power forward is so limited. A little positional flexibility-- meaning a guy who can shift between either the 4/5 or 4/3 -- would be a nice touch, helping open some options. Still, without serious structural changes to the current core, it's a tough sell.

So without further ado...

HEY, THESE GUYS ARE GOOD AND/OR WANT/DESERVE BIG ROLES! MEANING THEY WON'T BE IN L.A. NEXT SEASON, UNLESS THE LAKERS MAKE MAJOR CHANGES!
  • David West (Unrestricted Free Agent, New Orleans)
  • Carl Landry (UFA, New Orleans)
  • Jeff Green (Restricted Free Agent, Boston)
  • Glen Davis (UFA, Boston)
  • Kenyon Martin (UFA, Denver)
  • Kris Humphries (UFA, New Jersey)
  • Chuck Hayes (UFA, Houston)

West is coming off serious knee surgery, but is a former All-Star and when healthy is clearly the best player on this list. Landry would never give up the opportunity to continue his habit of eviscerating the Lakers by actually signing with them. Davis isn't a starter, but remains a very valuable role player who is too good for the role the Lakers can offer. Green has been extended a $5.9 million qualifying offer by the Celtics, meaning he's already been priced out of L.A., not that he's an overwhelmingly attractive option, anyway. Martin is not a guy you want sitting on the bench, potentially becoming unsatisfied with his role. He played center in Houston because the Rockets didn't have any other options, but his size makes PF Hayes' natural spot. Either way, he was among the more underrated players in the NBA last season. Again, too good for what L.A. can give.

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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