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Best Potential Veteran Minimum Free-Agent Options for LA Lakers

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2013

Best Potential Veteran Minimum Free-Agent Options for LA Lakers

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    There's still time for the Los Angeles Lakers to make some noise that doesn't consist of them losing out on Dwight Howard this summer.

    Already looking like they're going to be running with an interesting group of players, the Lakers are still in need of another body or two (or three) to complete their roster.

    Most of the big-name free agents not-named Brandon Jennings have already signed their newly minted contracts, though it wouldn't have mattered if they hadn't. The Lakers have nothing more than the minimum salary allowed to offer.

    Immediately upon reading the word 'minimum,' you know Los Angeles' options are limited. Realistic possibilities are also further restricted courtesy of a shallow pool of remaining talent and the expectations the organization is still held to.

    The Lakers can't just sign drones for the sake of signing them, after all. They're the Lakers. Assembling a roster to the best of their ability is what they do, even when attention has turned to the summer of 2014, and all the LeBron James goodness it has to offer.

    Before the Lakers can embark on what will be a franchise-defining overhaul in roughly one year's time, they have to play out the season in front of them first. And that begins with them pillaging through any and all the available talent, in hopes of finding the perfect fit.

Drew Gooden

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    Age: 31

    Years Experience: 11

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 3.3 points, 1.9 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.3 steals and 0.4 blocks on 32.8 percent shooting

    The Lake show is short on rebounding, and Drew Gooden provides plenty of it.

    Amnestied by the Milwaukee Bucks, Gooden appeared in just 16 games last season. During the lockout-condensed 2011-12 campaign, however, he posted averages of 13.7 points and 6.5 rebounds a night.

    Though he's never been known for his shot blocking—something the Lakers also need—his rebounding rivals that of Jordan Hill's while also presenting a more competent offensive option.

    If Mike D'Antoni's plan is to run two bigs at the same time, Gooden could be valuable as a starter next to Pau Gasol or the second-unit alongside Chris Kaman.

    Were Magic Mike's plan to run with one big and an onslaught of shooters, housing both Gooden and Hill would seem redundant. Bringing in Gooden at the veteran's minimum would allow the Lakers to dump Hill's $3.5 million salary off on another team, thereby saving them a few dollars worth of tax penalties.

    Los Angeles doesn't really have any stretch forwards at the moment, though, which means the balance between Hill and Gooden isn't on course to become an issue. D'Antoni may be forced to run with a conventional power forward in most of his lineups.

    Any way you slice it, signing Gooden isn't an exciting transaction, but it fits into what the Lakers are trying to do—rally the troops into the summer of 2014.

Daniel Gibson

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    Age: 27

    Years Experience: 7

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 5.4 points. 1.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.1 blocks on 34 percent shooting

    Backcourt depth isn't exactly the most pressing area of need for the Lakers at the moment, but they could still use shooters.

    To be sure, we're talking about restrained, potentially accurate shooters. Not uninhibited chuckers. Nick Young has them covered.

    Which brings us to Daniel Gibson.

    Think of Gibson as a shorter version of Gary Neal. His per-game stats won't bring your jaw to the floor, but he can get hot rather quickly. And save for last season, he's proved to be a rather deadly shooter from beyond the arc, converting on over 40 percent of attempted threes for his career.

    In a pinch Gibson can also man the point. Steve Nash missed 32 games last season and the Lakers didn't bring back Chris Duhon (how dare they). Adding some insurance that extends beyond the capricious Steve Blake and surprisingly hyped Jordan Farmar makes sense.

    Running the floor is also foreign to the Lakers at this point. Their roster is the antithesis of everything D'Antoni once stood floor. Gibson is someone who can run the break without a wheel chair or pair of roller blades.

    Try not to get lost in visions of him and Swaggy P running transition sets that will either end in pull-up threes or botched lay-ups.

Austin Daye

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    Age: 25

    Years Experience: 4

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 4.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.3 steals and 0.4 blocks on 43.3 percent shooting

    Make. This. Happen.

    According to Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy, the Lakers have expressed interest in signing Austin Daye, who split time with the Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies last season.

    Their interest is hardly shocking. They need ALL the stretch forwards they can get their hands on. Even someone as inconsistent as Daye.

    Although he's shooting 35.6 percent from beyond the rainbow for his career, two of his first four seasons saw him finish with a deep-ball clip of 30.5 or lower.

    Los Angeles wasn't assembled with running a high-octane offense in mind, but floor-spacing forwards are a favorite of D'Antoni's. They're also becoming increasingly common around the league, and the last thing the Lakers want to do against a team that runs small is ask Hill, Kaman or Gasol to defend a stretch 4.

    Personally, I didn't like how the Pistons used him for the three-plus years he was in Detroit. And he was never going to get an adequate shot in Memphis.

    Spending most of his time at small forward was limiting the kind of impact he could have. By running with him at the 4, he renders opposing defenses skin-and-bones thin just by hovering around the arc.

    In Los Angeles, any extra room that can be created for Kobe or, to a lesser extent, Young, is a plus.

    With how the Lakers are projected to matchup against opponents defensively (poorly), they need to ensure their fielding the most dynamic offense possible.

    Austin Day, if you're willing to take a (slight) pay cut, come on down.

Ronnie Brewer

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    Age: 28

    Years Experience: 7

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 3.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.1 blocks on 35.4 percent shooting

    Because why not?

    Ronnie Brewer is essentially a more glorified version of Wesley Johnson, but he's relatively young and, more importantly, available. Los Angeles can't be too choosy as they attempt to captain the dog days of free agency.

    Like Johnson, Brewer is revered for his perimeter defense. No team that Swaggy P calls his own can ever have too many pesky defenders. 

    When he gets it together, that eery looking jump shot of his can also fall. He's hit on just 25.6 percent of his treys over the last seven years, but he started out last season with the New York Knicks on an offensive tear, before regressing to his rather unfortunate mean.

    At 6'7", Brewer can also man the small forward spot in addition to the shooting guard position. If Kobe Bryant proves to be human and D'Antoni grows wary of Young going ham from the perimeter, depth of wings won't be a bad thing.

    Since the mustached-wonder's teams always find ways to score,  the Lakers have the ability to run with a player like Brewer should they so choose to.

     

Tyrus Thomas

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    Age: 26

    Years Experience: 7

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 4.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.6 blocks on 35.3 percent shooting

    We've got to go here.

    Tyrus Thomas' tenure with the Charlotte Bobcats came to a merciful end when they elected to waive him via the league's amnesty provision, and he's the perfect misfit to fit in with Los Angeles' cluster of misfits.

    Known for anything but being consistently productive, Thomas still has time to get it together. He can be a fierce rebounder and menacing shot-blocker, the latter of which is something the Lakers truly lack. Neither Gasol, Hill or Kaman are known for protecting the rim.

    Signing him would also give the Lakers a big who can run the floor, on those rare occasions they decide to push the tempo. Can't underestimate the value of an athletic big who can blocks shots and get ahead of the defense.

    Whenever making a case for Thomas, it's important to be nostalgic. Back in 2009, he was the only player in the NBA, who logged a minimum of 25 minutes a night and then posted at least 14 points, eight rebounds, 1.5 steals and two blocks per 36 minutes.

    His resume reads like a novella of squandered potential, but the Lakers have some Hall-of-Famer by the name of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at their disposal who may be willing to teach the embattled big man a thing or two for the year.

    Still owed $17-plus million over the next two years from the 'Cats, Thomas would be an interesting, and potentially great, addition to a Lakers team that could use a bit of everything he has the ability to do.

Lamar Odom

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    Age: 33

    Years Experience: 14

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 4.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.7 blocks on 39.9 percent shooting

    Just bring the entire band back together again already.

    Lamar Odom didn't leave the Lakers on the best of terms, but some of the best seasons of his career were spent next to Kobe. I'm thinking he would welcome the opportunity to return.

    Kobe and crew may have to fend off their in-house rival, the Los Angeles Clippers, if they wish to make a play for Odom, though. That would prove difficult only because the Clippers are in a better position to contend for a championship.

    Were the Clippers to go in a different direction (possible) and Odom be amenable to a return at the veteran's minimum (eh...) it's near impossible to come up with a better match.

    Odom gives the Lakers rebounding, which if you've read the rest of the article, you know the Lakers need. Badly.

    Those 5.9 rebounds per game he averaged last season came in just under 20 minutes of action. Sans Dwight Howard, the Lakers aren't in any position to pass on a body that can grab boards at a rate of 10.7 per 36 minutes.

    Not to be forgotten is that Odom also notched at least 12 points per game in each of his seven seasons with the Lakers. Since leaving, he's been a wreck offensively. Refitting himself in purple and gold may be just what the sports psychologist ordered.

    Pushing 34, the Lakers wouldn't be bringing back an All-Star version of their former comrade. But if his return is coming at the veteran's minimum, who cares? 

    Versatility and postseason experience are what the Lakers should care about most. And Odom provides both.

    Reuniting just makes too much sense.

     


     

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