LA Lakers: 12 Free Agents Who Would Look Good in Los Angeles

Oren FriedmanCorrespondent IIJune 20, 2012

LA Lakers: 12 Free Agents Who Would Look Good in Los Angeles

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    After a 4-1 series loss at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers will be looking for a way to get back into the Western Conference's upper echelon.

    With underachieving PG Ramon Sessions choosing to opt out of the final year of his deal, the Lakers still have a sizable hole in the backcourt. Given the questions looming about the Lakers' age, GM Mitch Kupchak will be looking for the fountain of youth this summer.

    To grab a serious game changer like Deron Williams, the Lakers will likely lose someone from their starting lineup, but it could help them in the future. With LA significantly over the cap, some serious negotiation play will have to take place.

    Here are 12 free agents that would help boost Kobe and company back to their championship form.

Jeremy Lin, PG, New York Knicks (RFA)

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    Tinseltown could come down if Linsanity makes it out to Hollywood next season.

    The most riveting backcourt off the floor, Jeremy Lin and Kobe Bryant could find success on the court as well.

    Lin is a steady shooter that can play the pick-and-roll with tremendous effectiveness.

    With Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, he would not be relied upon too heavily in Mike Brown's system, giving him the latitude to pick his spots and push the ball in the right situations.

    Lin would certainly give the Lakers some much needed youth on a team full of veterans.

    While his price might have skyrocketed after Linsanity took over Gotham last season, Mitch Kupchak would be one GM clever enough to lure Lin out to Los Angeles.

Darrell Arthur, F, Memphis Grizzlies (RFA)

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    After a torn Achilles sidelined Darrell Arthur last season, he could fly under the radar this offseason.

    Arthur is an aggressive 4 with the speed to cover a quick wing player and the height to bother larger players.

    He is not incredible in any specific capacity, but he is quietly consistent and the type of player Mike Brown could use as a spark off the bench.

    Effectively, Coach Brown could turn Arthur into the Lakers' version of the Cleveland Cavaliers' Anderson Varejao. Arthur is still young and would benefit from a team with a stringent defensive system.

    Given the ineffectiveness of Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy, Arthur could find consistent minutes off the bench.

    Recently, the Lakers have not been known to be a scrappy team. With Arthur, some of that grit-and-grind Grizzlies basketball could find its way to Los Angeles.

Kirk Hinrich, G, Atlanta Hawks (UFA)

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    At 31 years old, Kirk Hinrich is not much of what he once was on the Chicago Bulls.

    Still, Hinrich is a serviceable guard with the court vision to be a starting point guard and the consistency to come off the bench as a combo guard.

    Last season, Hinrich's numbers took a hit as he finished the regular season averaging just 6.6 PPG and 2.8 APG, falling behind Jeff Teague on Atlanta's depth chart.

    Perhaps the Hawks' deficiencies limited Hinrich, as just three years ago he was putting up 10.9 PPG and 4.5 APG while sharing the backcourt with Derrick Rose.

    Hinrich will be wearing a flashing neon "BUYER BEWARE" sign entering free agency this offseason, but with some good workouts, he could prove his worth and find himself starting alongside Kobe Bryant next season.

Michael Beasley, F, Minnesota Timberwolves (RFA)

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    By this point in Michael Beasley's career, the typical narrative of immature, one-dimensional and lazy has been exhausted.

    Simply, Beasley has the capacity to perform offensively, and on the right team, he could be the difference maker between playoff pretender and championship contender.

    Playing behind Kevin Love, his numbers were not off the charts as his PPG dropped from 19.2 the year before to 11.5 last season. His rebounding numbers have also been under par, at just 5.6 RPG for his career, despite his lanky 6'10" frame.

    Nevertheless, Beasley could be just what the Lakers need next season.

    He can score the ball from nearly anywhere on the court and is the type of stretch 4 that most coaches would relish to have on the floor.

    At just 23 years old, he is still young enough to take a chance on. With a strong veteran core of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the Lakers have the personnel to keep Beasley in check and stymie regressive developments.

    Further, Mike Brown's defensive system could mask some of Beasley's defensive deficiencies.

    On the right team, Beasley could be an incredible contributor, and it looks like he fits that mold for the Lakers.

Aaron Brooks, PG, Phoenix Suns (RFA)

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    After finding success playing in China last season for the Guangdong Southern Tigers, Aaron Brooks will be seeking employment in the continental U.S. next season.

    Brooks has fallen off the map to the point that he does not even have a player profile on anymore.

    Still, the speedy guard is just 27 years old and a year removed from putting up decent numbers of 12.5 PPG and 3.5 APG as a backup for Steve Nash in Phoenix.

    Brooks will find an NBA team to sign him next season, and he could find himself starting if he has a productive training camp.

    For the Lakers, Brooks presents a series of caveats.

    How much has he regressed since his breakout playoffs in 2009?

    He was unstoppable, leading a battered Houston Rockets team, without center Yao Ming, to a seven-game duel against the eventual champion Lakers.

    Kupchak and company will really have to take a long look at Brooks to ensure that he will not just be a player akin to the underachieving Sessions.

    If Brooks can perform anything like he did a few years ago, he could be the solution for the Lakers at point guard.

Boris Diaw, F, San Antonio Spurs (UFA)

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    After being traded out of basketball purgatory in Charlotte, Boris Diaw was an integral component of the San Antonio Spurs' offensive machine last season.

    Diaw's numbers were never astonishing, as he put up just 6.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 2.5 APG in last season's playoffs. His efficiency was more reflective of his game, posting a +11.36 for the Spurs last season.

    The former Most Improved Player, Diaw is the type of smart player with sound interior passing that could flourish alongside Gasol and Bynum. 

    Diaw has the ability to play the high post or low post and would provide the Lakers with another offensive threat on the perimeter.

    Some of his serious drawbacks include his defense and his motor because he has been tagged as overweight throughout his career.

    Nevertheless, with the right personnel around him, Diaw could find his groove in Hollywood like he once did for the Phoenix Suns.

    His unselfish game would give the Lakers the closest thing they had to a Lamar Odom who helped them win back-to-back championships just two years ago. If the price is right, Diaw could be an asset for the Lakers in the future.

George Hill, G, Indiana Pacers (RFA)

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    George Hill would be a perfect fit for the Lakers.

    The young guard has a great basketball IQ, can hit the open jump shot and provide any team with solid individual and team defense. A product of the Gregg Popovich system, Hill understands proper spacing and knows where to be at the right time.

    After starting last season slow, Hill found his game in the playoffs, putting up 13.5 PPG along with a +12.18 efficiency rating.

    With the versatility to play either guard position, Hill would give the Lakers a dynamic edge in the backcourt.

    He is a tough player oozing with mental fortitude and the right amount of confidence to boost a fringe contender into the league's elite.

    At just 26, he still has not reached his ceiling. While Hill may never be an all-star, he is the right type of player for a championship contender.

    Precociously mature, Hill would give the Lakers some much needed stability in the backcourt.

    The lingering question surrounding him: Is he worth the money that he will likely command this offseason?

Nicolas Batum, SF, Portland Trail Blazers (RFA)

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    Nicolas Batum is the type of lanky stretch 3 that could infuse some energy into the Lakers' slow starting lineup.

    With Metta World Peace continuing to regress to a shell of what he once was, Batum could instantly start for the Lakers and be their best small forward.

    At 6'8" with an incredible 7'1" wingspan, Batum has the length to bother quick perimeter players and the bounce to battle in the trenches.

    On the Lakers, all of his services would be put to good use. Batum is one of those defenders that could guard any player from a PG like Chris Paul to a PF like Dirk Nowitzki.

    He can be inserted into a big lineup with Gasol and Bynum or upped to the 4 for a team trying to play small.

    Unfortunately for the Lakers, Batum will likely draw big offers from other teams. 

    Yet with the lure of playing for a championship team in Los Angeles, Batum might be chasing rings alongside Bryant next season.

Steve Nash, PG, Phoenix Suns (UFA)

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    Former back-to-back MVP Steve Nash is still pursuing that ever-elusive championship ring.

    At 38, Nash's window is as small as ever, but given the way he treats his body, he should still have a couple of productive years left in his tank.

    While critics would curse the Lakers for even considering Nash at his age, he could be the right punch to elevate the Lakers back to a championship squad.

    His court vision is as good as ever, as evidenced by his 10.7 APG game last season. That's good for second in the league behind Boston's Rajon Rondo.

    Nash is still a pure shooter that forces defenses to stay honest. What he gives up defensively, he more than compensates for on the offensive end.

    Would the Lakers have been able to defeat the potent Thunder last postseason had they had Nash running the show?

    Fans can speculate, but one thing is for sure. Even at 38, Nash is still an upgrade over any PG on the Lakers' current roster.

Randy Foye, PG, Los Angeles Clippers (UFA)

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    Once starting guard Chauncey Billups went down with an Achilles injury, Randy Foye really came to his own as a starter for the Clippers.

    A quick combo guard that can create his own shot, Foye would benefit any team needing an offensive boost.

    Defensively Foye is vastly underrated because he has the foot speed to keep up with quicker guards and the smarts to play sound team defense.

    Foye could be the type of dynamic player that the Lakers could really use next season. His versatility would give Coach Brown the flexibility to have him play point guard or come off the bench to spell Bryant.

    Given his success last season, many teams will be trying to steal Foye away from Clipper Country.

    Could Lob City's co-tenants be that team?

Goran Dragic, PG, Houston Rockets (RFA)

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    With consistent and nagging injuries to Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic nearly led the Rockets to the playoffs last season.

    After leaving the Valley of the Sun two seasons ago, Dragic came to his own in Houston's efficient system.

    Last year, he averaged 11.7 PPG with 5.3 APG while playing big minutes for the injury riddled-Rockets.

    As a restricted free agent, the Rockets may be willing to part ways with Dragic if his asking price is too high.

    The Lakers are not a team to overpay a journey man player, but if they can steal Dragic they could find some much needed support in a depleted backcourt.

Deron Williams, PG, Brooklyn Nets (UFA-PO)

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    The jewel of the 2012 free agent class, Deron Williams, would instantly boost the Lakers into the NBA's elite.

    Williams is a bona fide superstar who is a top-three PG with the court vision to be among the league leaders in assists per game, the efficiency to score +20 points per game and the awareness to body up some the NBA's best perimeter players. Williams could be a No. 1 option on most NBA teams.

    Williams is just 26 years old and would be the right player for Bryant to pass the baton to once he decides to hang it up.

    Signing Williams would also give the Lakers a tremendous amount of redemption after their Chris Paul deal fell through last season for "basketball reasons."

    The all-star will require a max deal, and the Lakers would have to free up some cap space if they intend to sign him. For the most part, Williams is only a pipe dream for the purple and gold.

    Bringing him in would likely result in the departure of Gasol and/or Bynum. However, if they chose to deal Gasol for a young PF and moved some other pieces, they could come up with some cap space.

    Still, signing Williams would lead to some more raised banners in the Staples Center and a formidable backcourt for years to come.