Realistic Targets LA Lakers Can Snag on the Cheap in 2013 NBA Free Agency

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2013

Realistic Targets LA Lakers Can Snag on the Cheap in 2013 NBA Free Agency

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    In the month of July, the Los Angeles Lakers will need to make due with limited salary cap flexibility and ensure financially prudent decisions that result in sound signings. 

    That may sound difficult, but luckily there are several quality free agents available who can be had at a low cost. 

    While the Lakers won't be able to sign any players (sans Dwight Howard) who will have a profound impact this season, they don't need to. Instead, the Lakers must focus on going hard after quality reserves who can help rejuvenate a bench that was among the league's worst last year. 

    With a quality starting lineup already intact, it's time for the Lakers' front office to buckle down and focus on bolstering a second unit that can help take pressure off of the team's aging stars.  

Byron Mullens

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    According to a tweet from ESPN LA's Dave McMenamin, the Los Angeles Lakers have inquired about Charlotte Bobcats center Byron Mullens. 

    The Bobcats declined Mullens' qualifying offer, per Rick Bonnell on Twitter, making the 24-year old-an unrestricted free agent.

    After suiting up for 26 games in Oklahoma City over the first two years of his career, Mullens was granted a bigger role with the Bobcats, starting a combined 66 games over the past two seasons. 

    Mullens averaged 10.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in 26.9 minutes per game last season and is an appealing low-cost addition because of his ability to stretch the floor. 

    The former Ohio State Buckeye makes his living out beyond 15 feet, according to Hoopdata. Last season, Mullens attempted 2.4 shots per game between 16 and 23 feet, while his favorite spot was beyond the three-point line, where he jacked up 3.9 attempts per contest. 

    A 30.1 percent shooter from deep for his career, Mullens isn't exactly reliable, but the Lakers can't afford to get picky this summer with extremely limited cap space. 

Sasha Vujacic

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    It's been two years since Sasha Vujacic stepped on the NBA hardwood, but it appears that a return is in order. 

    According to a tweet from ESPN LA's Arash Markazi, Vujacic is interested in a return to the pros and the Los Angeles Lakers in particular. 

    A two-time champion as a member of the 2009 and 2010 Lakers, Vujacic is not only a familiar face, but a reliable perimeter shooter who could bring stability to an otherwise lackluster second unit. 

    Another important thing to consider is that Vujacic has been out of the league for two years and figures to come relatively cheap. 

    In the seven seasons prior to his NBA hiatus, Vujacic shot 37.1 percent from three en route to a 5.6-point-per-game average. 

Nick Young

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    Is a return home in order for Nick Young?

    A Los Angeles native who attended the University of Southern California, Young's addition would add to an already crowded Lakers backcourt. 

    However, the Lakers seem to be doing their due diligence on the former Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard, according to a tweet from ESPN LA's Ramona Shelburne. 

    Coming off of a poor season in which he shot 41.3 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from three, Young could conceivably be signed for cheaper than he was last season, when the Sixers inked him to a one-year, $6 million deal. 

    Young's shot-taking tendencies are positively infuriating at times, but considering the Lakers had the league's third-lowest scoring bench last season, per Hoopsstats, it couldn't hurt to give Swaggy P a look. 

DeJuan Blair

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    Even if Dwight Howard does return to the Los Angeles Lakers after meeting with a wide range of suitors, Mike D'Antoni could use a big who can act as a spark plug off the bench. 

    Brandan Wright is an intriguing name as well, but according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon, he is receiving considerable interest from a number of Eastern Conference teams. With so many squads interested in Wright's services, it's hard not to imagine a bidding war getting underway.

    And that's exactly where the Lakers don't want to find themselves. 

    Instead, the Lakers should focus their attention on DeJuan Blair, the underutilized and undersized center who showed flashes of excellence with the San Antonio Spurs.

    Blair averages 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds for his career, but given a larger opportunity outside of San Antonio, could wreak havoc on the glass a la Reggie Evans. 

    A scrappy player with a nose for the ball, Blair should be atop the Lakers' wish list this summer. 

Chris Copeland

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    With Antawn Jamison departing via free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers are in need of a backup to Metta World Peace at small forward. 

    One intriguing solution comes in the form of New York Knicks swingman Chris Copeland, who burst onto the scene with a steady stroke from beyond the arc last season. 

    And according to a tweet from ESPN New York's Jared Zwerling, the Lakers have already made an exploratory offer to Copeland. 

    In his rookie season, at the age of 28, Copeland averaged 8.7 points per game thanks to 42.1 percent shooting from three and posted an above-average PER of 16.8. 

    Copeland upped his three-point shooting proficiency come playoff time, knocking down 47.8 percent of his looks from beyond the arc in nine postseason appearances. 

    The Lakers are in need of instant offense, and Copeland is exactly that.