Lakers Rumors: L.A. Wise to Steer Clear of Nate Robinson After Other Signings
Nate Robinson is one of the best scorers in the NBA when he's in a groove, and on paper, he would be an ideal fit in Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni's system.
That being said, the Lakers have done enough in free agency this offseason and have enough talent on their 2013 Las Vegas Summer League roster for competition to brew amongst guards not named Kobe Bryant in training camp.
At this point, the Lakers would be smart to avoid bringing Lil' Nate to L.A., even if he would make an impact in an up-tempo offense off the bench.
Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy noted on Saturday that the Lakers were one of the teams mentioned when Robinson's name came up in conversation:
Following up on @ESPNSteinLine's Nuggets tweet, I'm told Nate Robinson has also received interest from the Wizards, Bucks, Mavs and Lakers.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 13, 2013
But on Sunday, Kennedy was hearing a different story about Los Angeles' interest in the 29-year-old:
The Lakers and Mavericks may have moved on from Nate Robinson after signing a few guards, but they were among the teams interested.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 13, 2013
Robinson just completed a strong season as a fill-in point guard with the Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose missed the entire 2012-13 campaign, and Kirk Hinrich was often an injury no-show as the Bulls tried to stay alive in the Eastern Conference. Both of these factors gave Robinson an opportunity to play in all 82 games with Chicago last season.
He performed well for head coach Tom Thibodeau and Co., averaging over 13 points per game while shooting over 40 percent from the three-point line. More of a combo guard than a true point man, Robinson did an admirable pf job running Chicago's offense while the two other guys who were signed to do just that were on the shelf.
Interest in Robinson's services this offseason hasn't been as high as his regular season and playoff stats would have suggested at the end of the season.
After all, Robinson upped his playoff scoring average to over 16 points per game before Chicago finally bowed out of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at the hands of the Miami Heat, and Lil' Nate showed big heart in willing his Bulls to even make the second round.
While his toughness, scoring off the bench and emotional spark would be huge for the Lakers next season, management has already done enough on the free-agent market where a move for Robinson might be excessive at this stage of the game.
Steve Nash will be returning as the Lakers' starting point guard next season, and while his injury concerns don't do anything to cement the fact that Robinson won't be needed, a look at what the Lakers now have on the roster should do the trick. Steve Blake will be returning, old friend Jordan Farmar was brought back, Jodie Meeks agreed to stay with the team, and the Lakers have also signed two more guards (Nick Young and Wesley Johnson) in recent days.
ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi had this breakdown of incoming and outgoing players on the L.A. roster:
Lakers Offseason Moves: OUT: Howard, MWP, Jamison, Clark, Duhon IN: Kaman, Young, Johnson, Farmar, Kelly— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 14, 2013
If the fact that three point guards are on the roster isn't enough to persuade you that a Robinson signing might be over the top, look to the shooting guard spot for some more assurance.
Even if Bryant misses the first part of the regular season, Meeks, Young and Johnson will all see time on the wing, and guys like Michael Snaer and Josh Selby could make the roster off the summer league squad with a strong showing in Vegas.
And don't forget, this isn't exactly a "go-for-broke" year in L.A., even if fans are clinging to the idea that the right compliment of players will allow D'Antoni's offense to thrive. In fact, we don't really even know if this is a playoff team.
As Markazi points out, the plan is simple. If one looks at the Lakers' team salary breakdown for 2013-14—like this one from Basketball-Reference.com—it is easy to see what the ultimate plan of attack will be:
Lakers plan is simple. Go after bargains with one-year minimum deals this year and go for broke next year.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 14, 2013
Most Lakers fans understand the team's current plans and realize an 8 seed is a good goal. Of course, there's still some expecting a title.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 14, 2013
That being said, the Lakers are obviously still shooting to prove doubters wrong. Three players who all looking for rings late in their careers (Bryant, Nash, and Pau Gasol) will correct any theories that the Lakers are looking ahead to greener pastures, as Markazi points out:
As far as the Lakers "tanking" instead of shooting for the playoffs. Try explaining that to Kobe, Nash and Gasol.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 14, 2013
As it is, I think the Lakers will end up as a No. 8 seed in the West. But Robinson is the type of guy, at this point in the free-agent game, that you sign if you know you either desperately need help or you understand that he could fill a legitimate role on the roster.
He does neither for L.A. right now.
Should the Lakers pursue Robinson?
Personally, I expect Robinson to contribute heavily wherever he lands for the next two or three seasons. He seems more mature than he was just a couple of seasons ago, as you have to be disciplined to play for Thibodeau and the Bulls.
Unfortunately, NBA teams have refused to give him a long-term contract until he can prove that he can be a consistent force in a scoring role.
While Robinson would be a nice addition for a team starved in the guard department, don't expect that team to be the Lakers. Through players they're familiar with and with others they're taking a chance on, the vision for next year's rotation and roster is already taking shape.
Unfortunately for Nate Robinson fans, it likely doesn't include the lilliputian point guard wearing purple and gold.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.
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