L.A. Lakers: Does Leandro Barbosa or Kenyon Martin Bring Them Closer to a Title?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IAugust 6, 2012

PHOENIX - DECEMBER 30:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns talks with Leandro Barbosa #10 during the NBA game against the Boston Celtics at US Airways Center on December 30, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Celtics 116-98.  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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If you ask any number of Los Angeles Lakers fans what is the team's greatest area of need when it comes to competing for the 2013 NBA championship, the majority of them will probably say additional outside shooting.

The acquisition of Steve Nash solidified the troublesome point guard position, while making the Lakers instant NBA Finals contenders, and the moves to sign Antawn Jamison and re-sign Jordan Hill helped strengthen one of the league's worst reserve units.

The Lakers certainly put themselves in a better position to compete with the likes of Oklahoma City and San Antonio, but are they good enough to beat either team in a seven-game series?

And if not, will a player like Indiana guard Leandro Barbosa or Clippers forward Kenyon Martin put them over the top?

Barbosa and Martin's names are the latest to ride the Lakers' wheel of free-agent speculation, but at least Martin and Barbosa give Lakers fans a slight reprieve from all the re-manufactured Dwight Howard talk.

According to ProBasketball Talk Martin has narrowed his choice of teams down to the Lakers or the Brooklyn Nets, and Matt Moore at CBSSports.com recently reported that the Lakers were showing interest in Barbosa, which makes sense considering his friendship with Nash and their Phoenix connection.

Barbosa's speed and ability to break down opposing defenses off the dribble would be a great addition to the Lakers' second unit, and it doesn't hurt that he's nearly a career 40 percent three-point shooter as well.

Martin also would provide the Lakers reserves with energy and rebounding off the bench, and his career 13 points per game average suggests that Martin can still be a viable second-tier scoring threat.

The only thing is, when the Lakers signed Jamison, they acquired a player who is capable of providing everything that Martin potentially could, only in a more prolific fashion.

Jamison is a better career scorer and rebounder than Martin, and the range on his jumper extends a little bit further as well. Martin is a much better defender than Jamison, but the Lakers' second unit is more in need of a player who provides a spark and sets the tone on the offensive end.

It would be nice if the Lakers could manage to sign both Barbosa and Martin, but due to finances, they will be extremely lucky to land either one.

The Lakers seem reluctant to offer more than the league minimum to any player outside of Howard, but it's doubtful that either Martin or Barbosa would accept those terms, unless all other efforts have been exhausted.

On the other hand, there are few contending teams that would risk triggering the luxury tax by signing a mid-level player like Martin or Barbosa, and once they come to the reality of life after the NBA's latest CBA, the Lakers may have a chance.

And if the opportunity to sign Barbosa or Martin presents itself, the Lakers should pick Barbosa, and it shouldn't be a difficult choice.

Martin would add more strength and depth to the Lakers bench, but he would be a virtual duplicate of Jamison.

Barbosa's ability to get to the rim makes him an upgrade over current backup Steve Blake, and he has the added bonus of strong three-point shooting and an already established chemistry with Nash, to boot.

That doesn't mean Barbosa would bring the Lakers any closer to a championship than they are now, but he certainly brings them closer than Martin would.