Lakers Rumors: Lakers Should Add Jermaine O'Neal Regardless of Howard Trade

Michael DulkaContributor IJuly 18, 2012

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 13:  Jermaine O'Neal #7 of the Boston Celtics tries to block a shot by Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls on January 13, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Lakers are reportedly, by Yannis Koutroupis of Hoops World, very interested in signing Jermaine O'Neal to be there backup center. The 33-year old has struggled to stay healthy with problematic knees, but is coming off a certain procedure in Germany that Lakers fans know plenty about.

The Lakers should add O'Neal as their backup center, whether Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard is their starter. 

The last few seasons haven't been kind to the aging O'Neal, playing just 49 games over the last two seasons with the Boston Celtics. When O'Neal was on the floor, he struggled to be consistent and averaged just 5.4 points per game in 2010-2011 and five points per game in 2011-2012.

Having had a knee procedure that has worked well for others around professional sports, O'Neal should be expected to improve to a point where he can be a productive player for a limited number of minutes per game.

The Lakers desperately need a competent big man to play the center position behind Andrew Bynum. The same applies if the Lakers end of landing Dwight Howard. Both Bynum and Howard have struggled with injuries and will need time to rest throughout the season. 

Rumors are also indicating that the Lakers are nearing a contract with power forward Antwan Jamison. Jordan Hill also had some success for the Lakers down the stretch and could be back with the team. 

Last season, one of the Lakers biggest weaknesses was a lack of big men behind Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. By signing Jamison and O'Neal the Lakers would have quite the front court with a good amount of depth. 

If the Lakers can flip Bynum for Howard, the Lakers are even better down low. 

O'Neal would heavily benefit from playing with Steve Nash, especially if O'Neal's knees are back in decent shape, which he says they are, according to Hoops World:

And again this is by far the best I’ve felt in five years. Between the treatment in Germany and my coaches here, strength and conditioning coaches and basketball coaches, it’s been a really good relationship between the three. I’m looking forward to it we’ll see what happens.

O'Neal would be great in the pick-and-roll with Nash getting to the basket and hitting his mid-range jumper. When using O'Neal in the pick-and-roll, the Lakers could pair him with Gasol down line and run it with both on the court. 

With the Lakers going all in for the next few season, an aging veteran in O'Neal makes a lot of sense for the team, especially at the veteran's minimum. With a short-term contract, there isn't much a downside for the Lakers with regard to the signing of O'Neal. 

O'Neal's presence would bolster depth behind the Lakers starter at center, whether that is Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard.