NBA Rumors: Ranking Wing Players the Lakers Should Have Interest in
With the Los Angeles Lakers hurting a bit in the second unit and no help in sight, it's likely they make a move for a wing player in the coming weeks. Jodie Meeks and the rest of the guards behind Kobe Bryant have been less than impressive, and this is a title-or-bust season for LA.
Several names are popping up across the league as available. Among them are sharpshooter Matt Carroll, defensive guru and former Mike D'Antoni crony Raja Bell, and a popular name throughout the free agent ranks, Mickael Pietrus.
Delonte West is another name that's been floated around as a potential mid-season add, but point guards Steve Blake and Chris Duhon are impeding progress on that front.
The Lakers have a full roster and a payroll of $100 million, so it would be rough to add someone without cutting a player from the current 15-man group. That would be a significant salary-cap hit, but would the Lakers do it knowing it would help them this year?
Here's a look at those three guys mentioned in order of how important they would be to the team and their fit with the current roster.
(Note: All reports are from ESPN's Marc Stein, per his Twitter account.)
3. Matt Carroll, Potential Free Agent Guard
Word is Hornets & Matt Carroll working on buyout after CHA dealt Carroll for Hakim Warrick. Possible free-agent shooter for Lakers' radar?— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 16, 2012
The Lakers certainly have a need for three-point shooting. Without Steve Nash in the lineup, they've been downright horrendous, shooting 32.7 percent as a team. Most of that production has come from Steve Blake and Kobe, who are both above 40 percent.
However, Carroll is a glorified version of Jason Kapono, the man the Lakers signed to fill a similar role last year. He's also a lot like Meeks. The only way I could see Carroll coming aboard was if D'Antoni completely started using three-point shooters in place of bigs on his second unit.
He can flat-out shoot, but he's not the perfect fit.
2. Mickael Pietrus, Free Agent Forward
Injury-ravaged Raptors, I'm told, have pondered making fresh run at Mickael Pietrus but, w/15 guaranteed deals, lean toward staying course— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 16, 2012
However, he reportedly turned down Minnesota (or didn't say yes fast enough) because he was looking for the full piece of the $2.45 million pie that some teams can still offer.
He's an obvious fit for LA. He could back up Metta World Peace, brings fire and a smooth three-point stroke and also played games in Phoenix under the remnants of D'Antoni's system.
However, the money will be too much for LA to match. They don't have the funds to cut a full $3 million without some sort of sign-and-trade, making this very difficult to complete without a willing trade partner.
1. Raja Bell, Utah Jazz G
Bell is the clear choice here.
Raja Bell is a natural for D'Antoni Lakers to pursue but Bell still on Jazz roster. Lakes also have $100M payroll & full roster to cope with— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 16, 2012
As with Pietrus, it would have to be some sort of trade. But Bell clearly wants out of Utah after head coach Tyrone Corbin has chosen to let his young guys loose, and would welcome the chance at a championship in LA.
Who should LA chase?
It's unclear what LA would offer straight up, so this also might have to be a complex trade, possibly of the three-team variety.
Still, Bell would help Kobe slide down to the three in smaller lineups, while keeping D'Antoni's offensive principles intact. His defense is on par with World Peace's against certain offensive players, and his team-first attitude would be a welcome change for the media.
So, there you have it. Who do you think the Lakers should go after? There are plenty of options to fix the shooting slide they're currently in, including some internally. Whether the new coaching staff sees it fit to grab a new body is something we'll have to keep an eye on.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist and syndicated writer for Bleacher Report and the Breaking News Team.
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