Busy Lakers Conceding Nothing in Wake of Dwight Howard's Departure

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 12, 2013

When Dwight Howard chose the Houston Rockets as his preferred free-agency destination, the Los Angeles Lakers easily could have given up. 

Saddled with a ridiculous set of contracts, Mitch Kupchak had no money to play with and was left with just the mini mid-level exception and veteran's minimum contracts to dole out to the remaining minnows in the free-agent pond.

It would have been perfectly understandable if he'd just decided that this wasn't the Lakers' year. Instead of trying to make something out of nothing, he could have chosen to tank. Or at the very least, he could have accepted being terrible. 

The experience would have been an ugly one during the 2013-14 season, but it would have been quite rewarding next summer when the Lake Show was figuring out which stellar prospect to use its lottery pick on. They could have even had a shot at Andrew Wiggins. 

Rather than taking the easy route, L.A. decided to prove once more that "quit" is not a word in the franchise's vocabulary. 

I can't even begin to imagine the peals of laughter that would echo through the locker room if such a concept was brought up in Kobe Bryant's presence. This isn't directly relevant to the situation at hand, but let me remind you what type of player the Black Mamba is. 

Remember when he tore his Achilles tendon at the end of the 2012-13 regular season? What did he do? 

Instead of getting helped to the locker room, Bryant limped over to the foul line and calmly drilled both of his free throws to give his team a better shot at winning the game. Then he exited. 

Considered the microphone sufficiently dropped. 

Like I said, "quit" doesn't exist while Kobe is on the roster.  

To prove it, the Lakers have actually been active in their pursuit of usable depth. Sure, they're trying to patch up holes in the roster and have to sign players to get to the required number, but L.A. is going after guys who can immediately contribute. 

It looks like they're planning to make a go of it this year. 

The Lakers' options are extremely limited, but all three acquisitions they've made have been quality signings given the lack of financial flexibility. Jordan Farmar is still a decent point guard, and both Nick Young and Chris Kaman will have sizable impacts. 

Farmar spent the last season playing for Anadolu Efes in the Turkish Basketball League, but he's now back in the NBA with the team he helped win two championships. Each of Farmar's last two NBA seasons were spent with the New Jersey Nets, and he was starting to get more playing time while putting up the best numbers of his career. 

During the 2011-12 campaign, Farmar came off the bench and posted a career-high 17.4 player efficiency rating. He's a capable backup, the role that he'll help Steve Blake fill whenever Steve Nash needs a breather. 

As for Kaman and the shooting guard known as "Swaggy P," they're both tremendous values on the mini mid-level exception and a veteran's minimum contract, respectively. 

Kaman helps provide depth in the frontcourt and he'll remain a solid big man who rarely gives you anything to write home about. During his last season with the Dallas Mavericks, he averaged 18.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per 36 minutes. 

Those are pretty decent numbers, and they'll be valuable off the bench. The Kaman signing got lampooned simply because he's not Dwight.

But who is? 

Kaman was just about the best the Lakers could do with such little money. 

The same applies for Young, whose inability to understand the concept of passing might frustrate the hell out of Kobe. That said, the Lakers needed another offensive weapon, one who wasn't hesitate to put up shot after shot. After shot. After shot. 

With those three free agents now on board, the Lakers at least have a capable lineup. It isn't a powerful one that will force Western Conference powerhouse to quake in their boots, but it will ensure that the Lakers at least remind kind of competitive. 

  • Point guard: Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar
  • Shooting guard: Kobe Bryant, Jodie Meeks
  • Small forward: Nick Young
  • Power forward: Pau Gasol, Ryan Kelly
  • Center: Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre

L.A. will continue trying to add more guys, presumably a few small forwards and power forwards, but the current list of rostered players isn't too bad. The starting lineup in particularly is a playoff-caliber, so long as it's not held up too much by Kobe's Achilles and the lack of depth. 

The bench has shooters and energy guys, as well as a Hall-of-Fame-caliber bench celebrator. 

But the Lakers aren't going to be content unless they remain competitive. That, more than anything else, is what this offseason has taught us. 

Even if the Purple and Gold struggled to make the postseason during the 2012-13 season, this roster will be similarly in the hunt for a playoff berth near the end of the regular season. The level of talent has declined significantly in the wake of D12's departure, but there should be more chemistry and less injury- and coaching-related turmoil. 

Don't expect the Lakers to concede anything. They have to give Sacre something to cheer for, after all. 


Note: All stats, unless otherwise indicated, come from Basketball-Reference.com.


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