Lakers Rumors: Latest Free-Agent Buzz and More

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IJuly 1, 2012

Lakers Rumors: Latest Free-Agent Buzz and More

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    The Los Angeles Lakers will always be an attractive team for free agents because of their winning history and the excitement that comes from living in Southern California.

    On the court, the Lakers aren't far away from making another run toward an NBA championship. They have three superstar players in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, in addition to some other good role players.

    The Lakers don't need to make major changes, but adding depth is necessary for improvement next season. Let's look at the all the latest buzz surrounding the purple and gold in free agency.

Andrew Bynum

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    Andrew Bynum didn't want to be the only soon-to-be free agent without a magic "list".

    UPDATE: Sunday, July 8, 2012, 6:30 p.m. ET by David Daniels

    Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Bynum has a list of teams that he'd be interested in joining if the Lakers fail to offer him an extension in the coming year.

     

    Without an extension with Lakers, Andrew Bynum has a short list of teams he will consider in 2013 free agency, league sources tell Y!

    — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 8, 2012

     

    That isn't necessarily surprising. What is surprising—if not shocking—is one of the teams on his wish list, also reported by Wojnarowski.

     

    Among Bynum's short list of potential free agent landing spots in 2013, Houston is prominent with Dallas and Cleveland, sources tell Y!

    — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 8, 2012

     

    Yes, that's right folks. The Cleveland Cavaliers are on a wish list. The only one more surprised than you is LeBron James.

    ---END UPDATE---

     

    UPDATE: Tuesday, July 3, 2012, 2:00 p.m. ET by Ryan Phillips

    Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM.com is reporting that the Lakers are prepared to offer Andrew Bynum and Metta World Peace in return for Dwight Howard

    Source: Lakers are prepared to offer the Andrew Bynum and Metta World Peace to the Magic for Dwight Howard provided Howard signs extension

    — Jarrod N Rudolph (@JRudolphSports) July 3, 2012

    As Rudolph points out, any deal is contingent on Howard signing a long-term extension with the team and that is certainly up in the air at this point. 

    Additionally Rudolph claims the Magic will include Jason Richardson in any deal for Dwight Howard. Richardson is due to make $5.8 million in 2012-13, $6.2 million in 2013-14 and holds a player option worth $6.6 million for 2014-15.

     

    The Orlando Magic have a backup plan and it involves Andrew Bynum.

    According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

    As Orlando works to unload Dwight Howard, Magic focusing on Lakers' Andrew Bynum as top target, sources tell Y! Sports. Story soon on site.

    — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 3, 2012

    This is a good idea for the Magic to go this route as Bynum could really produce in Orlando. As for the Los Angeles Lakers however, it would be a big hit to replace.

    Bynum will only be turning 25 years old in October and had arguably his best pro season in 2011-12. Averaging a career high in 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game, Bynum also shot 55.8 percent from the field and 69.2 percent from the line.

    The man even upped his play during the postseason with 16.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. For Orlando, Bynum would be a great center to take over for Howard, but the Lakers would take a step back.

    It's a win-win situation for Bynum, because he's one of the better big men in the association. And if he were to make the move to Florida, L.A. would have to make some drastic adjustments before the 2012-13 season tips off.

Dwight Howard

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    Dwight Howard apparently isn't the only star center that isn't sold on the Magic.

    UPDATE: Sunday, July 8, 2012, 6:30 p.m. ET by David Daniels

    While Lakers fans make a fuss about the possibility that Howard would refuse to sign an extension if traded to Hollywood, Orlando now has a reason to worry about the exact same thing only with Andrew Bynum. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that there's no reason to believe that Bynum would without a doubt sign an extension with the Magic if he was swapped with Howard.

     

    Bynum has shown no inclination to agree to an immediate extension if sent to Orlando as part of a Dwight Howard package, sources tell Y!

    — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 8, 2012

     

    First it was Howard's desire to test free agency, then his back injury and now yet another potential snag has been hit in the Los Angeles-Orlando trade talks.

    ---END UPDATE---

     

    The Dwight Howard rumors involving the Lakers are alive again, and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports has the latest:

    The Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic have had preliminary contact about a possible deal for All-Star center Dwight Howard, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

    Orlando officials are willing to discuss trades for Howard, and the Lakers have been one of the teams in touch with them over the weekend, sources said. The Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets have also talked to Magic officials, sources said.

    Would the Lakers be willing to acquire Howard even if he doesn't guarantee them that he will sign an extension? That would be a risk not worth taking. The Lakers would be better off forgetting about Howard and address their issues at point guard.

Steve Nash

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    Boom.

    The Lakers have landed Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade deal with the Phoenix Suns,  according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

     

    Source confirms: The Suns are sending Steve Nash to the Lakers for draft picks.

    — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 5, 2012

     

    Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports fills us in on the details regarding what Nash gets out of the deal:

     

    Nash gets 3-year guaranteed $27 million deal, his agent Bill Duffy tells Y! "He's ecstatic. He gets to be close to his children," Duffy said

    — Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 5, 2012

     

    Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic has the lowdown on what the Suns are receiving as a return for their part in the trade:

     

    In the Nash sign-and-trade, the #Suns will get 2013 & 2015 first-round picks and 2013 & 2014 second-round picks.

    — Paul Coro (@paulcoro) July 5, 2012

     

    That's not all the Suns received, though, according to Spears:

     

    The Suns get $3 million in the Nash trade.

    — Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 5, 2012

     

    So, now that we've established the particulars of the trade, what does it mean for the Lakers?

    Adding Nash to the mix with Kobe Bryant in the backcourt gives the Lakers a tremendous boost on the offensive side of the ball. Nash is a massive upgrade over last year's starter, Ramon Sessions, and he won't wilt under the bright lights of NBA playoff basketball like Sessions did last year.

    Nash is a bit of a liability on defense, but his ability to distribute the ball on offense far outweighs his defensive lapses.

    This is a brilliant move for the Lakers, and I look forward to seeing Nash and Bryant in action.

Timberwolves Making Big Push for Pau Gasol

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    The Minnesota Timberwolves have come calling about Pau Gasol and it appears they are serious about trying to land the Lakers' big man.

    Sports Illustrated has reported that the Timberwolves tried to swing a trade to land Gasol before the draft, and are still willing to give up some younger players to get a deal done. 

    One of those players would be the No. 2 pick from the 2011 NBA Draft, Derrick Williams. 

    Gasol is thought to be an ideal fit for Rick Adelman's offense and he is close friends with Minnesota point guard (and fellow Spaniard) Ricky Rubio. 

    The Lakers would obviously love to land a young, talented wing player like Williams, but that probably won't be enough to get a deal done. Gasol turns 32 this week and is due to make more than $38 million over the next two seasons. 

    Los Angeles would love to unload Gasol's contract and get some youth and athleticism in return. Minnesota looks like the most likely buyer at this point.

Lakers Re-Sign Darius Morris

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    While Los Angeles continues to pursue different potential moves, according to Yahoo!'s Mark Spears, they have re-signed reserve guard Darius Morris to a qualifying offer.

    Lakers re-sign guard Darius Morris to qualifying offer, source tells Yahoo! Sports.

    — Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 2, 2012

    The 21-year-old played in just 19 games last season and averaged 2.4 points, 1.1 assists and 0.8 rebounds in 8.9 minutes per contest.

    He is a solid defender but doesn't appear to have much of a ceiling offensively.

    The Lakers selected the Michigan product with the 41st pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. His qualifying offer for next season was $962,000.

Ramon Sessions

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    The Lakers acquired point guard Ramon Sessions from the Cleveland Cavaliers via trade last season, and Los Angeles would be smart to bring him back on a long-term contract for the right price.

    Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles has the latest:

    As Mitch Kupchak promised, Lakers first free agency move was reaching out to Ramon Sessions' agent to begin contract discussions

    — Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 1, 2012

    Sessions averaged 12.7 points and 6.2 assists per game for the Lakers in 23 games, which were both better than his Cleveland numbers in the previous 41 games of his season.

    Sessions isn't a star point guard, but he's capable of giving the Lakers enough offense to be successful.

    He also doesn't need the ball a lot to be effective, which is good, considering Kobe Bryant has the ball a lot on offense even when he's in playmaking mode.

Jordan Hill

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    Jordan Hill is a young player with a ton of talent, but he just hasn't reached the point many thought he would be at three years into his NBA career.

    He certainly hasn't lived up to the hype that he had when the New York Knicks took him with the eighth pick in the 2009 NBA draft.

    The Lakers would be smart to bring him back, but only at the right price. Overpaying for Hill would be an awful decision.

    According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, there are several teams with their sights on Hill.

    Jordan Hill is in South Carolina w/ family and will indeed meet with Minnesota on Monday. Other teams to express interest: ORL, GSW, MIA

    — Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 1, 2012

    Hill's spot in the rotation is certainly replaceable if the Lakers are hesitant at all about re-signing him.

Many Options for the Backcourt

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    The amount of free-agent shooting guards available is dwindling after an action-packed last few days of signings.

    UPDATE: July 5 at 5:40 p.m. ET by Sam Quinn

    According to The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn, Jason Terry and the Boston Celtics have agreed to a three-year deal:

    Terry, who officially can sign a contract July 11, will sign for the full mid-level exception that begins at $5 million per season. The Mavericks, according to the source, offered Terry more money per season to return but only a two-year deal.

    Things don't look so good in terms of the Lakers acquiring Jameer Nelson either, according to Nelson himself:

    Glad to say I've reached an agreement with the Magic... I'm blessed to have the best fans and a great organization supporting me!

    — Jameer Nelson (@jameernelson) July 5, 2012

     

    ---End of Update---


    One position that the Lakers have to strengthen over the summer is point guard.

    The team hasn't had a top-caliber floor general since Derek Fisher was in his prime.

    Adding a quality shooting guard isn't a bad idea, either.

    Signing a guard who has a pass-first mentality but can also stretch the floor with some strong outside shooting would be a huge addition to the Lakers' roster.

    Sam Amico of Fox Sports shares some of the options that the Lakers will have in free agency.

    As for Lakers, Ramon Sessions, Kirk Hinrich, Jameer Nelson all said to be on radar. Potentially Jason Terry, too.

    — Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 1, 2012

    Hinrich and Terry are the best fits. Both are smart players who can shoot well from the outside on a consistent basis and not be liabilities on defense. Terry also has championship experience.

    Nelson is overrated, and even though he's younger and would bring more athleticism than Terry and Hinrich, he isn't the best fit.

Rivals to Battle for Young SG?

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    O.J. Mayo is one of the best scorers available on this year's free-agent market, and since he's only 25 years old, he will be one of the most coveted players of the summer.

    According to Sam Amico of Fox Sports, the NBA's two biggest rivals could both pursue the former Memphis Grizzlies guard.

    Seeing some follow-ups on my reports last month Celtics have strong interest in O.J. Mayo. So do Lakers.

    — Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) June 29, 2012

     

    Mayo would be the perfect sixth man for the Lakers because of the scoring he can bring off the bench. He would also be the perfect long-term replacement for Kobe Bryant.

    The only issue with Mayo is that he will receive a lot of money in free agency, and with the Lakers' current salary-cap situation, they would have to move some salary to be able to sign Mayo and still make other moves in the offseason.

Undrafted Player on Lakers' Radar?

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    Xavier guard Tu Holloway was one of the best players in this year's NCAA tournament and was a scoring machine throughout the season for the Musketeers.

    It was certainly a surprise that he wasn't drafted.

    UPDATE: July 5 at 5:40 p.m. ET by Sam Quinn

    The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly missed out on Tu Holloway for the time being.

    According to Cincinnati.com's Shannon Russell, the Toronto Raptors invited Holloway to play for their NBA Summer League team.

     

    ---End of Update---

    According to Sam Amico of Fox Sports, several teams may have interest in him.

    BTW, heard undrafted Xavier G Tu Holloway has received calls from Cavs, Lakers, Thunder & Spurs about summer league, but haven't confirmed.

    — Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) June 29, 2012

     

    He averaged 17.5 points and 4.9 assists per game this season.

    He is certainly worth a look over the summer and will likely have a chip on his shoulder since he went undrafted.

Chauncey Billups

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    Chauncey Billups has decided to stick around in Los Angeles.

    UPDATE: July 5 at 5:40 p.m. ET by Sam Quinn

    Billups has reportedly come to terms with the Los Angeles Clippers, according to the LA Times' Brad Turner:

    Clippers get Jamal Crawford, Chauncey Billups to agree to deals, cancels visit with Ray Allen, LA Times story;latimes.com/sports/sportsn…

    — Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) July 5, 2012

     

    This would have been a bigger deal for the Lakers had they not been able to acquire Steve Nash on Wednesday, but their crosstown rivals have scooped Billups up nonetheless.

    ---End of Update---

     

    Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles has the latest news on Chauncey Billups and the Lakers:

    The Lakers are targeting a handful of veteran point guards including Chauncey Billups, Jameer Nelson and Kirk Hinrich, the source said.

    Billups is coming off a serious injury and isn't worth signing for the Lakers. He's an aging player whose best days are behind him, and the Lakers already have plenty of championship experience.

Brandon Rush and Nick Young

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    Add Nick Young and Brandon Rush to the list of players on the Lakers' free agent radar.

    Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times has the latest:

    Lakers interested in Nick Young + Brandon Rush, The Times has learned. Young's too pricey for Lakers' $3 mill limit, but Rush = interesting.

    — Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) July 1, 2012

    Both of these players will likely cost more than the Lakers are willing to pay, although they would give the Lakers some much needed athleticism in the backcourt. Finding a veteran guard is a better option for the Lakers.