5 Free Agent Point Guards L.A. Lakers Would Be Wise To Pursue
With backup point guard Steve Blake out at until at least mid-January following abdominal surgery (according to CBSSports.com's injury report), the Lakers have dove further down their depth chart. Considering the team is still only weeks in to instituting head coach Mike D'Antoni's offensive system, it's quite been quite the daunting task.
The Lakers have already committed more than $100 million to their 2012-13 payroll (according to salary figures from hoopshype.com). But they're still weighing their point guard options on the trade and free-agent markets (according to what a source told ESPNLosAngeles.com).
The available names aren't pretty, but neither has been the play of current point guards Darius Morris and Chris Duhon. The duo has combined for just 43 points in their past five games, with Morris hitting just two of his 15 field-goal attempts over that stretch.
But there are some (mildly?) intriguing options for Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak to consider.
The sixth overall pick of the 2009 NBA draft, Flynn was supposed to be with his draft class peers in the NBA.
His NBA career began on a promising note with 13.5 points and 4.4 assists per game during his rookie campaign. But he suffered a hip injury near the end of the season, which necessitated offseason surgery.
By the time Flynn worked himself back into playing shape, his spot in Minnesota Timberwolves rotation was gone. He's since had brief stays with the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets and was waived by the Detroit Pistons before the 2012-13 season.
(I did mention that these names weren't going to be pretty, right?)
Flynn could be one of the most talented of all of the players on the list, depending on how much he's still feeling the effects of that hip injury. Once projected as one of the most explosive players entering the league, he needs that drive in his hips to beat defenders on the perimeter.
During his NBA career, Flynn shot 33.8 percent from three-point territory and just 40 percent from the field.
He's currently playing for the Melbourne Tigers in Australia's National Basketball League, but he has an NBA opt-out clause in his contract (according to what sources told ESPN's Marc Stein).
Clearly the 37-year-old James' contribution to this team would be limited.
After all, he's played just 166 minutes (spread out over 15 games) in the NBA since the 2008-09 season.
A reserve for the majority of his career, James was once a reliable instant offense spark off the bench. He even managed 20.3 points per game in a starting role for the Toronto Raptors in 2005-06.
James ventured into the NBA Developmental League in 2011-12 and eventually earned his way up to the Chicago Bulls. He appeared in 11 games for Chicago, averaging 4.8 points in 10.9 minutes.
If the Lakers look James' way, they can't count on him being capable of stepping into a starting role, even on a limited basis. But he could offer this club production over the course of the season.
If Nash returns sooner rather than later, perhaps James could be the kind of veteran presence that D'Antoni needs on the second unit. He knows how to take care of the basketball (1.5 career turnovers per game in 24.9 minutes). And he'll channel that scoring ability every now and then.
Uzoh may be the most unknown of this group.
He went undrafted after four seasons at the University of Tulsa, but he later played his way onto the Nets roster in 2010-11.
He went on to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors in 2011-12. Despite playing just 16 games with the Raptors, Uzoh earned a starting spot in eight of those contests. His final game of the season was his best as a professional, finishing the night with a triple-double (12 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds).
Uzoh managed a training camp spot with the Denver Nuggets but was waived before the start of the 2012-13 season. He has since moved to the D-League, where he's averaged 17.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and six assists in five games.
At 6'3", 205 pounds, Uzoh has the body to play the point guard position at the NBA level. But he may not yet have the natural ability the position requires. He's more of a scoring guard than a point guard, but under the tutelage of a helpful Nash, the 24-year-old could blossom.
The 34th pick of the 2011 draft, Mack was effective in limited minutes for the Wizards during his rookie season.
He saw just 12.2 minutes per game, but managed per-36-minute averages of 10.6 points, 6.1 assists and just 2.2 turnovers.
But Mack was waived prior to the start of the 2012-13 season, possibly to make room for veteran Jannero Pargo.
If Pargo was the motivation behind the move, it's one that the Wizards would clearly like to have back. The veteran lasted just seven games in D.C. before being waived to create space for Shaun Livingston.
Mack, meanwhile, has thrived with the D-League Maine Red Claws. He's posted 19.4 points and 6.7 assists per game during the Red Claws' first seven games and recently was named the D-League Performer of the Week.
Talent has never been a question for West, and it's not the reason that he's currently looking for a job.
He's a sweet shooter (career 37.2 three-point percentage), physical defender and efficient playmaker at either guard position.
But West brings a lot of baggage with him.
His unceremonious departure from the Dallas Mavericks followed two suspensions for "conduct detrimental to the team" (via Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com). Dallas feared that the eight-year veteran could be steering some of the team's younger players down a dangerous path.
His NBA history has been plagued by off-court incidents, which he's bracketed around flashes of brilliance.
Maybe the veteran voices in the Lakers locker room can help channel West's energy in a positive manner. From a basketball sense, West is far and away better than anything available on the free-agent market.