The Los Angeles Lakers' signing of veteran guard Raja Bell appears to be all but official, showing just how desperate the team is at this point. According to Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld, Bell has been saying he will sign with Los Angeles once his buyout with the Utah Jazz is finalized.
Alex Kennedy @AlexKennedyNBA
For what it's worth, Raja Bell has been telling players and friends around the league that he'll join the Lakers. We'll see if it happens.2/25/2013, 11:50:02 PM
Because of a dispute with head coach Tyrone Corbin, Bell has yet to play this season. In 12 NBA seasons, the 36-year-old has shot 41 percent from three-point range and played decent on-ball defense.
At first glance, Bell does indeed look like a good fit for the Lakers, who are currently ninth in the Western Conference and sitting three games behind the Houston Rockets for the final playoff spot. He spent three years playing for head coach Mike D'Antoni in Phoenix, and his perimeter defense could definitely help the Lakers.
But that's not the type of defense that Los Angeles needs right now. With seven-footer Pau Gasol recovering from a foot injury, the team has a gaping void in the low post and needs a big man to fill that hole until Gasol comes back.
In signing Bell, the Lakers would just be making another desperate move to try to justify keeping D'Antoni around. Instead of committing to defense in spite of D'Antoni being offense-minded, GM Mitch Kupchak would just be trying to convince himself that the Lakers could win by outshooting the other team.
More importantly, last I checked, the Lakers already have a bench shooter in Jodie Meeks. Granted, he doesn't have the same defensive capabilities as Bell, but he can still be relied on to make his shots from long range.
Apart from the desperation behind signing him, bringing Bell aboard would just give the Lakers another shooter they don't need. If Los Angeles wants to make the playoffs, it's not going to get there by shooting the lights out and hoping that it has the points advantage by the final buzzer.
The only way the Lakers can make the playoffs is through good old-fashioned interior defense, and Bell provides none of that. If team management could only realize that D'Antoni's approach is not the right one and that trying to justify his hiring any longer is not worth it...only then can the Lakers get back to being a perennial contender.