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Best Free Agents Available for L.A. Lakers During 2013 Offseason

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistOctober 12, 2016

Best Free Agents Available for L.A. Lakers During 2013 Offseason

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    Kobe Bryant plays many different roles for the Los Angeles Lakers, but general manager is not one of them.

    Still, the postseason plan the Mamba laid out during his exit interview is one that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak would be wise to follow: add length, speed and athleticism to this aging roster (via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times).

    Of course, saying it is a lot easier than doing it, particularly with the Lakers facing a possible $85 million luxury tax bill.

    The tax hit doesn't need to be quite so dramatic.

    L.A. has $78 million committed to next year's payroll, assuming Metta World Peace does not opt out of his $7.7 million salary for next season (via HoopsHype.com). Obviously that figure grows incrementally if the team finds a way to re-sign Dwight Howard, but it can also dip if the franchise opts to exercise its amnesty clause on Pau Gasol ($19.2 million) or World Peace.

    Kobe Bryant ($30.4 million) isn't going anywhere. Likewise for Steve Nash ($9.3 million), Steve Blake ($4.0 million), Chris Duhon ($3.9 million) and Jordan Hill ($3.5 million). Jodie Meeks could also be a part of the mix, but the Lakers will determine his fate with a $1.5 million team option.

    And according to HoopsWorld.com, that leaves L.A. with nothing better than a mini mid-level exception (roughly $1.6 million) to attract any free agents.

    Standing pat is not an option, but that's not the Lakers' way anyway. Same goes for penny-pinching, although there could be some change with Jim and Jeanie Buss now filling the legendary shoes of their late father, Jerry.

    There's room for improvement; even some length, speed and athleticism to be had.

7. Luke Babbitt

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    Notable Numbers: 3.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 11.8 MPG, 34.8 3PT%

    2012-13 Salary: $1.8 Million

    Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent


    The Lakers, like most NBA clubs, could withstand to upgrade their perimeter attack. L.A.'s 35.5 three-point success rate put it in the bottom half of the league.

    Potential long-range threats Antawn Jamison (36.1 percent) and Jodie Meeks (35.7) struggled to find any consistency. As the numbers indicate, so too did Luke Babbitt.

    But in the 2011-12 season, he was a 43.0 percent shooter from deep, which would have ranked in the top five this year. 

    He's no Kyle Korver, J.J. Redick or O.J. Mayo. But he's not going to command the same financial commitment, either.

6. Anthony Tolliver

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    Notable Numbers: 4.1 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 15.5 MPG, 33.8 3PT%

    2012-13 Salary: $0.9 Million

    Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent


    If Babbitt wasn't an indication, it's all about tempered expectations on the free-agent market.

    Anthony Tolliver is a more well-rounded player than Babbitt and better fits the physical profile (6'8", 240 pounds) of D'Antoni's coveted stretch forward. He's also a less accomplished long-range shooter, although he does have a 40-percent three-point season to his credit (40.9 in 2010-11).

    He won't win any games for L.A. on the defensive end, but he's a hustle player who could team with incumbent Lakers reserve Jordan Hill to buy this team extra possessions.

    His main attribute, though, will be the floor spacing he provides. Whether utilized at the small forward spot in a massive lineup or paired with Howard or Gasol in his more natural power forward position, he's the type of low-risk, low-reward option that the cap-strapped Lakers need to identify.

5. Xavier Henry

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    Notable Numbers: 3.9 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 12.5 MPG, 36.4 3PT%

    2012-13 Salary: $2.3 Million

    Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

     

    He holds more bust than boom potential, as Xavier Henry has shown next to nothing since the Memphis Grizzlies made him the 12th pick of the 2010 NBA draft.

    But he should be priced accordingly.

    He has struggled to log significant minutes in any of his three seasons in the league, but he could give the Lakers a jolt of athleticism on the perimeter without being the same offensive liability as Lakers restricted free agent Devin Ebanks.

    His career shooting percentages are certainly frightening (40.3 from the field, 28.9 from deep). But he earned his way to the NBA with the offensive creativity he displayed during one season at the University of Kansas.

4. Al Harrington

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    Notable Numbers: 5.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 11.9 MPG, 10 GP

    2012-13 Salary: $6.6 Million

    Contract Status: Partially Guaranteed Contract

     

    Al Harrington won't be seeing the $14-plus million left on his current contract, which runs through 2014-15. But the Orlando Magic are still on the hook for more than $7 million (via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel), which could lessen the economic importance on the 15-year veteran's next deal.

    If teams aren't convinced of his ability to contribute—knee problems and Orlando's youth movement limited him to just 10 games this season—Harrington could be a sneaky value addition for his next employer.

    At his best, he's the ideal weapon for D'Antoni's arsenal. He's a 35.2 percent perimeter shooter for his career and capable of creating his own offense when plays break down.

    He's a risky target for any potential suitor, and the 33-year-old will have to convince teams that he's fully recovered from a serious injury.

    For the right price, though, he might be worth the gamble.

3. Keith Bogans

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    Notable Numbers: 4.2 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 19.0 MPG, 34.3 3PT%

    2012-13 Salary: $0.8 Million

    Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

     

    Despite Keith Bogans' ability to impact both ends of the floor, the 10-year veteran has had a tough time finding a long-term home. The Brooklyn Nets are his sixth different team in his last five seasons.

    He's not the athletic specimen that Bryant would like, but he's a seasoned professional ready to contribute immediately.

    His 34.3 three-point percentage this season is actually a slight decrease from his career percentage (35.3). And he's capable of providing limited runs against the opposition's top perimeter scorers.

    More of a jack-of-all-trades than a specialist, Bogans would find ways to contribute if given the opportunity.

2. Toney Douglas

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    Notable Numbers: 7.5 PPG, 2.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 38.0 3PT%

    2012-13 Salary: $2.0 Million

    Contract Status: Restricted Free Agent

     

    The Sacramento Kings still hold the keys to Toney Douglas' future, but the presence of Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette could make the former Lakers draft choice available.

    Douglas has a bit of Nate Robinson in him, both the positives and negatives. He can fill up a scoreboard in a flash (he scored at least 15 points in seven different games this season), but he has shown a tendency to lose sight of his teammates on the offensive end.

    But his appeal for the Lakers comes on the other end, where the 6'2", 185-pounder has harassed opponents with his lateral quickness and athleticism.

    Playing him alongside Nash or Bryant could curtail some of his questionable decisions, while also giving the Lakers guards a bit of defensive relief.

    The question is if the Lakers would offer enough money to keep the guard-heavy Kings from matching.

1. Dwight Howard

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    Notable Numbers: 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 2.4 BPG, 57.8 FG%

    2012-13 Salary: $19.2 Million

    Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

     

    Free-throw struggles aside (49.2 percent), Dwight Howard was an absolute force in his debut season for the purple and gold.

    He led the league in rebounds, finished fifth in blocked shots and ranked 29th in scoring. His field-goal percentage was more than eight points higher than any of his teammates (Nash's 49.7 percent ranked second).

    And he managed all of this despite rushing back from April 2012 back surgery and later suffering, and constantly re-aggravating, a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Or being underused in D'Antoni's perimeter-based system.

    Besides the on-court success, though, the Lakers staked the future of their franchise on his broad shoulders and can ill afford to part ways with the bruising big man just a year later.

    Howard has yet to commit to extending his L.A. stay, but the franchise has to wait for his free-agent decision before making any other moves.

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