The Los Angeles Lakers' greatest need is in the low post, but team management appears to have its eye on yet another shooter.
According to Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld, the team has shown interest in guard Raja Bell and is hoping the Utah Jazz will buy out his contract. Due to a dispute with Utah, Bell has not played all season despite regularly working out to stay in game shape.
At first glance, Bell seems like a good fit for the Lakers. He has a history with head coach Mike D'Antoni, having played for him in Phoenix for three seasons, and has the three-point shooting skills necessary for an up-tempo offense. For his career, Bell has shot a respectable 41 percent from long range.
Mark my words: The Lakers must not pursue Raja Bell this season.
Granted, Bell could provide an excellent spark off the bench for the Lakers right now. For a team that plays in a system so reliant on hot shooting, Los Angeles ranks just 18th in three-point percentage and could use a solid shooter like Bell to help get the offense to the next level. He knows D'Antoni's offense, so confidence should not be an issue.
Bell is also a solid on-ball defender, which could help the Lakers tremendously right now. The team ranks 21st with just over seven steals per contest. Having Bell on the roster could also add some extra oomph on the defensive end.
That is all well and good, but allow me to get back to my initial point. The Lakers' greatest need is in the low post. At 6'5", 204 pounds, Bell isn't going to be spending any time there, regardless of if he joins Los Angeles or not.
Instead, Los Angeles should pursue a free-agent big man like Louis Amundson, someone in whom they have shown interest before. Amundson is not the strongest fit for D'Antoni's offense, but his commitment on the defensive side could easily give the Lakers a leg up in the highly competitive Western Conference, not to mention get them closer to a playoff berth.
It should also be noted that Bell is 36 years old, while Amundson is only 30. The Lakers are old enough as it is and don't need another aging veteran on the roster, especially one that has not played at all this season.
While adding Raja Bell to the Lakers may seem like a good idea, it really isn't. The team already has a solid shooter off the bench in Jodie Meeks. While Bell's defense could help a little bit, it's not going to fill the void on the interior that exists following Pau Gasol's injury.
General manager Mitch Kupchak needs to find a free agent that's all about defense, not an aging veteran good for a system that has thus far been a general failure in LA.