Best Available Bargains for L.A. Lakers in Free Agency
The Los Angeles Lakers have made a number of huge moves during the free agency period thus far, namely adding Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade and bringing in Antawn Jamison to shore up the bench.
They can't be content yet and should continue to strive for the best available bargains. L.A. still has a relatively weak bench, but these five players have the potential to help change that.
Most of these players would have to take a huge pay cut and sign for around the veteran's minimum. Playing for a title-contending squad wearing purple and gold should be enough motivation though.
Read on to find out which five players are the best available bargains for the Lakers.
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Last Team: Indiana Pacers
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 8.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.0 blocks, 0.9 steals
The Los Angeles Lakers still need to find a scorer to come off the bench in their backcourt, and Leandro Barbosa is the best option out there.
Still relatively spry at just 29-years-old, Barbosa remains a speed demon capable of blowing by anyone when he starts driving hard to his left.
The shooting guard last played with the Indiana Pacers, but he's in the market for a new team this offseason. He'd need to take a pay cut to join the cash-strapped Lakers, although putting on a purple and gold uniform would give him his best shot at a title.
His defense should be the only thing standing in the way of Barbosa joining the Lakers. He simply couldn't be on the court at the same time as Steve Nash, or else the team would essentially be playing 3-on-5 on defense.
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Last Team: Utah Jazz
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 6.4 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.4 steals
If defense is what the Lakers are seeking in free agency, then they should look no further than Raja Bell.
Bell and Kobe Bryant have had their fair share of spats in the past, but the two are both competitive enough that they could indeed coexist as teammates.
While Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski originally reported that the Lakers and Miami Heat were the favorites to bring in Bell, Chris Tomasson followed up by saying that six unnamed teams are showing interest in the aging shooting guard.
Bell is no longer the elite, or even starting-caliber, player that he once was, but he remains a lockdown defender with the ability to spot up from behind the arc. Both of those traits hold immense value on the Lakers bench.
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Last Team: Utah Jazz
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 9.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.3 blocks, 0.8 steals
After spending a while on the Dallas Mavericks' radar, C.J. Miles is still a free agent and should be drawing some interest from the Los Angeles Lakers.
The young small forward has spent his entire career with the Utah Jazz, but that's all set to change now. With Metta World Peace still installed as the small forward, the 3 would be the position of need for the Lakers at the moment.
Although the lefty is a smooth player around the rim, he's struggled with his shot selection throughout his career. Playing alongside an elite, facilitating point guard like Steve Nash would only do good things for his NBA career.
Unlike the veterans featured in this article, Miles still has a strong chance to develop into an above-average player. The pieces are there, but he just needs to start fitting them together with more success.
Last Team: Boston Celtics
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 5.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 1.7 blocks, 0.3 steals
Jermaine O'Neal is not the same player that he once was with the Indiana Pacers. The 33-year-old big man is no longer a superstar, a starter or even a consistent all-around contributor off the bench.
What the center can provide is a big body off the pine, one who won't score a lot, but will become a valuable presence on defense and the boards.
The less O'Neal shoots, the better, especially if he can save all of his energy for his strengths.
Between Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Antawn Jamison, the Lake Show has plenty of offense coming from their big men. Now it's time to add one more defensive stopper, even if he adds to the ridiculous number of total age on the L.A. roster.
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Last Team: Phoenix Suns
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 8.2 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.0 blocks, 0.3 steals
We're not too far removed from Michael Redd's prime as a 20-point per game scorer with the Milwaukee Bucks. After multiple years and surgeries though, the shooting guard is not much more than a sparkplug off the bench.
Redd isn't a great defender, but his shooting stroke remains more than adequate. If he can pick and choose his spots with greater care, he might actually manage to make the stroke look even better.
On a team as stacked as the Lakers, Redd should be able to regain some of his old form and start shooting better than 40 percent from the field once more while drawing contact and getting to the charity stripe.