The L.A. Lakers missed out on O.J. Mayo, but they could be getting ready to make a play for a different young shooting guard who could serve as a very suitable backup for Kobe Bryant.
He's going to be a bit more difficult to obtain, but Brandon Rush could fill in nicely.
According to HoopsWorld's Yannis Koutroupis, L.A. is interested in him, and something may be in the works:
Brandon Rush confirms the Los Angeles Lakers are interested in him. Negotiations are ongoing.— Yannis Koutroupis (@YannisHW) July 16, 2012
One snag in the negotiations, however, is the fact that Rush is a restricted free agent. The Warriors have already made Rush a qualifying offer of about $4 million, according to Lakers Nation, and they would be likely to match any offer he receives.
But that doesn't mean a deal can't happen: The Associated Press reports that a trade could happen to bring Rush to L.A.
It's not all that surprising that the Lakers weren't able to work out a deal for Mayo—given the abundant interest in him from teams that simply needed him more, it's no shocker that he ended up with Dallas—but it was an indication that L.A. was serious about pursuing some backcourt help even after acquiring Steve Nash.
That's where Rush comes in.
The 27-year-old Jayhawks product averaged 9.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in about 26 minutes per game for the Warriors last season. He shot 50.1 percent from the floor and 45.2 percent from three, and he could give L.A. something it desperately needs and lacked last season: A solid shooter off the bench.
Never was it more obvious that the Lakers' bench wasn't going to cut it than in the 2012 Western Conference semifinals, when L.A. got embarrassed by the Thunder. Someone like Rush gives the Lakers a spark off the bench who can score, first and foremost, and someone who can be a serious threat from long range—another aspect of the Lakers' game that was conspicuously missing in 2011-12.
Rush more than makes up for the fact that the Lakers weren't able to snag Mayo. He hasn't been as effective as Mayo throughout the course of his career, but shooting-wise, he was much better than Mayo in 2011-12. And Rush posted those numbers in the same division as the Lakers.
L.A. is going to have to make magic happen in order to obtain Rush. But even though the Warriors have indicated they'll match for the guard, you never know what could happen—look what went down with Jeremy Lin and the Rockets.
Rush could make a colossal difference for the Lakers in 2012-13. The team has already made huge strides in free agency, but this could be the difference maker, so L.A. should explore any and all possibilities before they abandon this idea.