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Under-the-Radar Free-Agent Options for LA Lakers to Pursue This Offseason

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Under-the-Radar Free-Agent Options for LA Lakers to Pursue This Offseason
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Kobe Bryant has a history of turning his enemies into teammates. Could Ronnie Brewer be the next one?

Summer after summer the NBA world is fixated on blockbuster free agents potentially swapping teams in the offseason, lured by bait such as max contracts, weather, market size, lack of state taxes and global icon-ability (Hi, LeBron).

The Los Angeles Lakers will be, as usual, in the thick of the drama revolving around this year's biggest free agent catch, Dwight Howard.

Yet whether or not the Lakers lock up the All-Star center to a long-term deal, L.A. remains way over the salary cap, meaning they have no money to throw at big-name free agents while attempting to re-tool the roster this offseason.

Time for the Lakers to go bargain hunting!

Last summer the Los Angeles Clippers signed the hugely productive Matt Barnes for the veterans' minimum.

Carlos Delfino went unsigned for nearly two months before agreeing to a short, cheap contract with the Houston Rockets that's not even fully guaranteed in the second and final year of the deal.

Heck, Kenyon Martin was sitting out there for the taking until after the All-Star break before finding a home with the New York Knicks. Now he's playing meaningful minutes for them in the playoffs.

The point is there are valuable free agents who slip through the cracks and deliver huge bang for the buck every year. Here are several the Lakers should target this offseason.

 

Anthony Morrow

Kyle Korver and JJ Redick will get most of the coverage this summer as the elite shooters available on the market, but Anthony Morrow may be just as good in that department.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Anthony Morrow is primed for a bounce-back season.

Morrow is a career 42 percent shooter from three and led the NBA in three-point accuracy as a rookie in 2008-09.

Strangely, Morrow barely saw any action this year, appearing in just 41 games and averaging fewer 10 minutes per contest. 

He doesn't have much value other than as a long-range bomber who can spread the court, but at the rate the Lakers launch threes, an upper echelon shooter would be a welcome acquisition.

 

Ronnie Brewer

After starting 34 games early this season for the New York Knicks, Brewer became an afterthought before being dealt to Oklahoma City. Now he can't even get off the bench for the Thunder in the postseason.

It's a shame, because Brewer has shown the ability to be an above-average NBA player, worthy of starter's minutes.

He's one of the worst wing shooters in the league (probably a big reason why the Knicks banished him), but he's an intuitive cutter who finishes well around the basket off of those cuts as well as in transition.

As long as he doesn't try to do anything he can't, Brewer can be part of an effective offense. In addition to his timely cuts, he's a surprisingly adept ballhandler and passer who hardly ever turns it over.

The bulk of Brewer's value comes at the defensive end though. Brewer is long and mobile, with a real knack for getting his hands on the ball and coming away with steals. He also rebounds the ball very well for his position.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Ronnie Brewer can bring a little speed and athleticism to the Lakers.

Brewer would finally be able to relieve the beleaguered Metta World Peace of his perimeter stopper duties, drawing the assignment of the opposing team's best wing scorer every night.

It's a task that Brewer has proven to be up to in the past.

 

Randy Foye

Over the past couple of years Randy Foye has been used as a stopgap solution in the starting shooting guard slot for the Clippers and the Utah Jazz.

It's a role that stretches him a little too far, but for the Lakers he would be able to go back to his comfort zone as a third guard coming off the bench.

Since becoming a full-time starter halfway through the 2011-12 season, Foye has been deployed almost exclusively as a catch-and-shoot three-point specialist. Last year, nearly 60 percent of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc, and he connected on 41 percent of his triples.

His shooting would undoubtedly be a boon for a Lakers squad in need of it, but what really makes him intriguing is his ability to combine his shot with some playmaking skills as well. 

Before the last two seasons Foye had consistently posted solid assist rates while keeping his turnovers to a minimum, but his penchant for creating has gone away as he has molded himself into a spot-up shooter.

Foye can hold his own defensively as well, but bigger wings are wont to take him into the post and he doesn't contribute much in the rebounding department either.

Still, if he can get back to being a more dynamic off-the-dribble player while maintaining his accuracy from deep, Foye would make an excellent backup guard for the Lakers.

 

Mike Dunleavy

Mike Dunleavy continues to be overlooked by casual observers. He's a superb offensive player who fits into just about any system seamlessly.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Mike Dunleavy is one of the most underrated offensive players in the league.

Dunleavy has fashioned himself into a very good three-point shooter. He has hit 40 percent of his triples in three consecutive campaigns after managing that feat only once in his first eight seasons.

He's a heady player who can handle the rock, make the right pass and move without the ball. 

The only concern with Dunleavy is his age. He turns 33 before the start of next season. A decline could be in store. His free-throw rate is already trending the wrong way as he relies more and more heavily on his outside shot.

Never a great defender, Dunleavy could be a liability on that end of the floor as he ages. The last thing the Lakers need is to get even older and slower.

If he agrees to a short-term contract, though, Dunleavy possesses the skills to provide a massive boost to L.A.'s offensively inert bench and strengthen an extremely thin wing rotation.

 

Chase Budinger

Another soon-to-be free agent who will likely fly under the radar is Chase Budinger.

The Arizona product is coming off an injury-riddled season with the Minnesota Timberwolves that held him back from improving upon his promising 2012 campaign.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Chase Budinger still has a lot to prove as an NBA player.

Budinger can shoot the three and also finish around the basket, but so far in his career he's been reluctant to drive to the rim all that much. It's an encouraging sign that Budinger got to the free-throw line significantly more in 2013 than in 2012, but a 23 game sample doesn't prove wholesale changes to his game.

Defensively, Budinger has always been solid if unspectacular. He rebounds the ball very well for his position and is athletic and mobile enough to hang with most wing players in the NBA.

Overall, he projects as a competent backup small forward for the Lakers who can take over the starting role from World Peace in a year's time with sufficient growth.

Budinger definitely has the most upside of anyone on this list, but he may come with the most question marks as well.

Still, the Lakers don't have to risk much on his potential to reap a hefty reward if he lives up to it.

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