NBA Free Agency 2012: 4 Available Players the LA Lakers Must Target
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The weakness of the Los Angeles Lakers for the majority of the 2011-2012 season was the inability of their bench to give any kind of valuable minutes whatsoever. To fix that, they'll need to continue to bolster that weakness with their pick of the remaining free agents still left in the player pool.
With basically the same core on the bench as last season, it's alarming to think Jamison is the only key addition to the unit. Sure, Devin Ebanks and youngsters Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock have showed promise.
But this is win-now time in LA (as if there is another time), and those three guys can't be counted on for valuable minutes during a championship run if there are more attractive options out there.
Turns out, a few guys that can play valuable minutes are still out there—and it's time for Kupchak and the gang to pounce before other teams start realizing the same thing. Here's a brief look at four options to fill out the bench behind Bryant, Gasol and new acquisition Steve Nash.
The smooth-shooting guard from Kansas has been a Laker target all summer, and it seems they're the only one dictating the market for his services. He's a quality three-point shooter, and might be exactly what Kobe needs to stay fresh.
With Nash running the point, Rush is sure to get some open looks from the perimeter. LA could even pair Rush and Kobe together at times, giving them a more potent lineup on offense for stretches at a time.
Rush is a free agent, so Golden State can match any offer he receives. He's in the mix for LA, but with a limited amount of money to offer it will be interesting to see what GS decides to do about matching should he sign an offer sheet.
Like Rush, Miles is a smooth shooter, an average defender and is already better than any shooting guard not named Bryant on the roster either last season or currently. After playing his entire career in Utah, his role changed under coach Tyrone Corbin, and he is looking for a fresh start in his career.
With teams looking to find bench scoring and three-point shooting this late in the game, Miles—like Rush—should command some under-the-radar interest as one of the final pieces on a team with some glaring needs off the bench at his position.
Does Kobe's former defensive rival with the Phoenix Suns want to join up with Bryant and old buddy Nash? Or will he decide to travel to South Beach?
Who will L.A. add to complete their roster?
His buyout with the Jazz isn't official, but it should happen in the next couple weeks. After losing out on Grant Hill, maybe Bell would be the kind of spot player Mike Brown needs on this team behind Metta World Peace as a defensive stopper.
It certainly wouldn't hurt LA to do their due diligence, and Bell is the kind of proven competitor and winner teams like to have around.
Boy, it would be weird to see Martin in purple and gold—but then again, it was weird seeing him in blue, red and white too. There are several suitors for his services, including the Golden State Warriors.
After a career where he has been a fan favorite for his current team—as well an opposing team's fans "most likely to boo" candidate—he'd bring some more toughness and depth behind Gasol and Bynum.
Re-signing Jordan Hill and adding Jamison certainly adds versatility, so much so that L.A. might choose to leave their post situation alone. But as the old saying goes, you can never have enough bigs; and Martin can still add rebounding and toughness to a team, as he showed for the Clippers last season.
Look for LA to make a push for at least two of these guys before the season starts. With 13 guys under contract (if you include Jamison and Ebanks) there are two open spots. Don't sleep on Darius Johnson-Odom or Robert Sacre to nab a spot, but odds are there is still work to be done.
If the Lakers want to win a title, they'll need to fix that bench, so there is work still needed to be done.
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