Lakers sign Josh McRoberts
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers have found themselves a new backup power forward.
The Lakers agreed to terms with free-agent forward Josh McRoberts, the team announced on Wednesday.
McRoberts signed a two-year deal worth approximately $6 million, according to a league source.
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"It's a great opportunity," said McRoberts after his first practice with the team. He flew from Indianapolis to Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon and didn't arrive until around midnight. "It's still kind of surreal to me. It hasn't really hit me yet."
The Lakers also worked out free-agent forward Troy Murphy on Wednesday. Murphy, 31, averaged 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds and 10.5 minutes in 17 games with the Boston Celtics last season, finishing the year in Boston after beginning the season with the New Jersey Nets.
McRoberts, 24, averaged 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game while shooting 54.7 percent from the floor for Indiana last season. He has career averages of 5.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 15.7 minutes per game while shooting 52.5 percent in four seasons with Indiana and Portland.
McRoberts missed the first five days of training camp while weighing his options as a free agent, but is confident he'll be able to pick up coach Mike Brown's system.
"I think I'll pick it up," McRoberts said. "A lot of it's just basketball. I think a lot of the NBA stuff is the same, it's just like in learning a new language though, everything is called something different, everything has wrinkles added into it."
Brown said he has known McRoberts since he was coaching the Pacers and McRoberts was a student at Carmel High School outside of Indianapolis.
"That was the high school that if we stayed, my kids would have gone there," Brown said. "It was about five minutes from the house, so my kids always looked up to him, and we used to take my kids to watch him play in high school. So I've seen him play since his high school days. He's got a great family, great friends from back there. He's a good guy."
The signing is a far cry from the "big deal" that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said the team is pursuing, but it does address the need for frontcourt depth that became apparent when L.A. traded Lamar Odom to Dallas and opted against re-signing free agent big men Theo Ratliff and Joe Smith.
The Lakers' frontcourt void became even wider when second-year big man Derrick Caracter suffered a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee at Monday's practice. At 6-foot-10, 240 pounds, McRoberts can play both the power forward and the center position.
"I think he can play both in certain situations," Brown said. "He's long enough, I think he's tough enough, he's feisty enough to play the five, and then he has great feet and his intelligence and his length will help him at that power forward spot."
The Lakers made use of their mini mid-level exception to sign McRoberts, a former Duke standout. A new provision in the recently ratified collective bargaining agreement, the mini mid-level is worth approximately $3.1 million a season (or $9.4 million over three years). It is the only contract available for NBA teams that have crossed the luxury tax threshold to offer to free agents, other than signing them to a veteran's minimum salary.
"Obviously the Lakers is an organization that speaks for itself," McRoberts said. "The great players that have been here, the great players that are here now. ... It's a privilege to put on this jersey."
McRoberts wore No. 32 in Indiana, which the Lakers have retired for Magic Johnson. McRoberts will wear No. 6 this season.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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