Troy Murphy signs with Lakers
Murphy signed a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum, worth $1,352,181, which is a set figure by the league for all players with 10 or more years experience, according to a league source. As a luxury-tax team that has already used up its mini mid-level exception on the signing of Josh McRoberts, all the Lakers can offer incoming free agents at this point is the veteran's minimum.
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"I think this is a good team," Murphy said Sunday after participating in his first practice as a Laker. "I think there is opportunity there."
Murphy fell out of favor with Nets coach Avery Johnson after early-season groin and back injuries limited his availability last year. New Jersey traded Murphy, along with a second-round draft pick, to Golden State in February for forward Brandan Wright and center Dan Gadzuric. Murphy's homecoming to the team that drafted him in 2001 was short-lived, as the Warriors quickly bought out his contract, allowing Murphy to sign with the Celtics.
Murphy described last season as a "fiasco" and said he is 100 percent healthy as he joins the Lakers with just one week to go before the season opens up on Christmas Day.
"I never really got going last year," Murphy said. "It was a difficult situation in New Jersey. We were a young team, coming off a real bad season and a new coach, new owner, new GM. It was a transitional year for that franchise and I just kind of got caught up in the numbers there."
The 6-foot-11, 245-pound left-hander has career averages of 11.6 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 38.9 percent on 3-pointers in 10 seasons in the league.
The Lakers brought Murphy in for a private workout on Wednesday where he caught new coach Mike Brown's attention.
"I don't know if I've ever seen a power forward shoot the ball better than he did during his workout," Brown said. "It was very impressive."
Murphy averaged 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds in Indiana in 2009-10 before being bounced around last season and struggling to find a role with New Jersey and Boston.
"We don't necessarily need him to be a double-double guy," said Brown. "Here, he's going to be more of a role player and he's going to fight for minutes with Josh. You look at your two starters as Andrew Bynum) and Pau Gasol) and then there's going to be a third big that can play some significant minutes and then the fourth big will just have to be ready to go, not necessarily being guaranteed a lot of minutes."
Murphy will be an insurance policy at power forward, filling the void left by departing free agents Joe Smith and Theo Ratliff. He brings the Lakers' roster size to 14 players that will likely be with the team on opening day. The Lakers are still looking to add another guard via free agency other than Baron Davis who agreed to sign with New York on Sunday, sources told ESPN.com.
The Lakers acted quickly in addressing front-court depth after trading Lamar Odom to Dallas last week by signing McRoberts and Murphy.
"Neither one of those guys is Lamar Odom and we don't expect them to come in here and replace him, but they give us more depth and they both give us a different look," Brown said.
Murphy serves a dual purpose in being a back-up big man, while also being a 3-point threat. The Lakers ranked in the bottom half of the league in 3-point percentage last season (18th at 35.2 percent) and were right in the middle in 3-pointers made per game (15th at 6.2).
"The one thing that I thought they did lack a little bit last year was a consistent threat from behind the 3-point line, so I felt that we needed to go get a guy that could still play that was a known threat out there," Brown said.
Added Murphy: "I feel like I made the right decision and I'm just happy to be here."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.