Scenario: career middling player who never averaged more than 10.5 points per game or a PER above 11.4 playing for three different teams in five, wholly unspectacular seasons signs two-year deal with storied NBA franchise located in a Mediterranean climate.
Outcome: Said player wants to finish career with said franchise.
We’re talking, of course, about Jodie Meeks, currently winding down a career year as a first-tier option with the lowly Los Angeles Lakers.
Slated to be a free agent come summer, Meeks is making it known he’d love to stick around with the regal but eminently rebuilding Lakers.
“I like the city and love it here,” Meeks told the Los Angeles Daily News' Mark Medina. “The coaching staff is great and it’s a storied organization. I always pictured playing in a organization that’s prideful about winning. I love it here and hope I can stay a long time.”
There are, of course, a few extracurricular considerations at play as well:
I love it here, man. It’s great weather, first of all. It’s not like you go to someplace in Chicago where it’s 20 degrees below zero. It’s a good place to play, a great organization and something a basketball player wants to be a part of because of the history. Hopefully I return. But with the nature of the business, you never know.
That doesn’t mean we can’t venture a guess, however.
With a maximum of seven players and a little over $36 million in committed salaries heading into next season—plus whatever L.A.’s prospective draft picks fetch—the Lakers, in theory anyway, have more than enough room to make Meeks fit.
The question is whether Meeks’ solid play, reinforced by career highs across the board, is enough to price him out of L.A.’s budget altogether. Not unlike fellow shooting guard Nick Young, who faces a similar crossroads heading into the offseason.
If the Lakers feel the need to choose between the two, which direction would they lean? Bleacher Report’s David Murphy tackled exactly this question in a recent piece:
The question of value is always subjective, and during a rebuild period when every dollar counts, management will be looking at numerous factors. Young is glitz and ticket sales and merchandising. He plays with charisma and won’t back down. He’ll shoot you into games and out of games, and he’s got Jeanie Buss talking about falling in love. Meeks keeps his head down, plays hard and works on his game over the summer. One is Swaggy P while the other is merely good at basketball.
Assuming Kobe Bryant (injury) and Pau Gasol (free agency, and thus a huge if) return next season, Meeks would, at the very least, be a proven insurance policy off the bench—a solid, consistent scorer with a proven work ethic and, at 26 years old, a bit of upside to spare.
The bigger question mark, of course, is Gasol, whose departure would mean an even stronger likelihood of Meeks sticking around.
Because let's be honest: You don't drop 42 points on the Oklahoma City Thunder without having more than a little bit of game.
Whether he can “finish his career” with the Lakers trends perhaps a bit too far into the speculative, of course.
Not that he doesn’t sound sincere, he absolutely does. There’s just a bit more at play here than pure basketball fealty.
Too cynical, you say? Ask yourself this: If Meeks were coming off a career year with, say, the Minnesota Timberwolves, do you think he'd be saying this stuff to the press?
If you do, I have a Santa Monica Pier to sell you.