NBA Free Agency: 10 Potential Targets on the Los Angeles Lakers' Radar
The champagne has barely dried and already the World Champs are preparing for this week's draft and the start of free agency next week.
The Lakers have six potential free agents on their current roster in rotation regulars guards Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, as well as forwards Adam Morrison, DJ Mbenga, and Josh Powell.
Brown has a player option for next season and Farmar is a restricted free agent. But the other three, including co-captain Fisher, are all unrestricted free agents.
There's very little doubt that Fisher is the one free agent that Lakers fans are most afraid of losing.
And while the front-office would love to bring him back there is no guarantee that another team with championship aspirations—like the Orlando Magic, perhaps—wouldn't at least make an attempt to sign the 14-year veteran.
Brown is sure to receive some interest on the open market from a team trying to add athleticism if he decides to opt out.
Farmar seems to want a situation where he could be a starter and in an offensive role that is more suited for his skill set, like that of the New York Knicks.
The Lakers don't have a first-round pick in this year's draft—it's the last piece that the Grizzlies received in the trade that brought Pau Gasol to the Lakers back in 2008.
But the Lakers have two second-round picks, both the Grizzlies' pick (No. 42) as well as their own (No. 59).
The Lakers also have both their mid-level exception as well as their bi-annual exception (about $2 million) with which to fill out their roster for next season. The mid-level exception can also be split on more than one player.
So which free agents might the Lakers be targeting should they lose one or more of their current free agents?
Javaris Crittenton, PG
Crittenton's 2009-10 season will be remembered much more for what happened off the court than for what happened on it.
That's not just because Crittenton didn't play a game this year after undergoing foot surgery in November, but because of his involvement in the incident where Gilbert Arenas brought guns into the Washington Wizards' locker room.
Both Arenas and Crittenton were suspended for the remainder of the season and the Wizards, to nobody's surprise, chose not to exercise their option to bring Crittenton back for next season.
Crittenton was originally drafted by the Lakers in 2007 and was traded to Memphis for Pau Gasol. He was a high school teammate of Dwight Howard at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy where the team ran the triangle offense—the same offense that's responsible for all 11 of Phil Jackson's championships as a head coach.
The Lakers have already invited Crittenton to join their summer league team in hopes that the 22-year-old is really just in need of a fresh start with a team that still values his skills set and was sorry to see him go.
Shaun Livingston, PG
After being the fourth-overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Shaun Livingston has battled all the way back from a gruesome, career-threatening knee injury to try and reclaim a spot in the NBA.
There's no doubt that a 6-7 point guard would be ideal for the Lakers and the triangle offense—which doesn't really rely on a traditional point guard.
Livingston finished last season on the Wizards, showing flashes of the play that made fans and NBA executives be so high on him when he became the first point guard to get drafted straight from high school.
Livingston scored in double-digits in nine of the Wizards' last 11 games, including two games in which he scored 18 points, one in which he scored 21, and another in which he scored 25.
When the Wizards won the draft lottery and the right to draft John Wall, Livingston instantly became expendable.
Steve Blake, PG/SG
Ask a lot of Lakers fans who they love the most from the free agent crop of point guards and many will list Blake as their top choice.
Blake is 6-3 and can play both guard positions—an added bonus considering the Lakers could use someone who could both pass the ball to Kobe Bryant as well as relieve him in order to preserve his minutes for the playoffs.
Blake is also a career 39 percent shooter from downtown—something the Lakers could also use to open things up in the paint for Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
The Lakers tied for 23rd in the league in team three-point shooting last season—making just 34 percent of their outside shots.
Blake is also an underrated defensive player who could matchup with both shooting guards and point guards because of his size.
Tony Allen, SG
This one seems to be a longshot, but the Lakers could do a lot worse than signing the player that seemed to give Kobe Bryant fits during the Finals.
Anybody who watched Allen guard Kobe in the teams two regular season meetings back in 2008 could tell you they weren't surprised to see him do such a great job.
Allen had an Achilles injury back in the 2008 Finals, so he wasn't able to show his defensive prowess on the big stage.
Surely there will be a number of contenders who would like to unseat the champs that have their eye on Boston's "Other Allen".
The Lakers could beat them to the punch by signing Allen as another perimeter defender who could also bring energy off the bench as well as back-up Kobe at shooting guard.
Delonte West, PG/SG
West isn't technically a free agent.
At least not yet.
But he has a $500,000 buyout in his contract for next season that makes him one of the Cleveland Cavaliers most likely trade assets. The Cavs will be trying to make a move in the coming weeks that would increase the likelihood that they can retain LeBron James.
West is scheduled to make about $4.7 million next season. But because of the buyout in his contract, the Cavs can trade him to a team looking to trim payroll that would then only have to pay the buyout—thus making West an unrestricted free agent and clearing his $4.7 million from their payroll.
Of course, West also has another issue he'll be dealing with this summer.
He is scheduled to appear in a Maryland courtroom on July 21 to face gun charges stemming from an incident that occurred back in September of last year.
West, like Blake, can also play both guard positions and is an inch taller than Blake.
He's a 37 percent career three-point shooter and brings a toughness that some of the other free agents might be lacking.
I'd say a third of the Lakers fans just got really excited when they saw Shaq's name and the other two-thirds might have spit coffee or soda all over their monitors in disgust.
It really doesn't seem that far-fetched if you think about it. However, the decision as to whether or not O'Neal returns to the team where had the most success in his career might rest in the hands of Kobe Bryant.
If Shaq rejoins the Lakers, it would guarantee that he would retire with fewer rings than Bryant. At the same time, is there a franchise that gives O'Neal a better chance at adding a fifth or sixth ring to his collection?
Andrew Bynum has suffered knee injuries in each of the last three seasons. Can you think of a back-up center that could more easily slide onto the roster than one who is already familiar with the offense?
If O'Neal is willing to play for the bi-annual exception—an $18 million pay cut from his salary last season—then I think it's a wise move. Anything more and I'd say it isn't worth it.
It would also give O'Neal a chance to get back in the good graces of Lakers fans who are still bitter about the way O'Neal left the team back in 2004.
Mike Miller, SG/SF
If you believe what Miller told Stu Whitney of the Argus Leader , then the Lakers are in play for the sweet-shooting 30-year-old.
"I'm looking for a winner. The last couple of years have taken a toll on me, as far as not being in the playoffs and not playing this time of year. So I'm looking to change that. This time, if it doesn't work out, there's no one to blame but myself."
Miller made 48 percent of his three-point attempts last season, second only to Kyle Korver (54 percent).
While Miller can't play point guard, the Lakers might have to change their plans if Miller is willing to take a significant pay cut from the $9.75 million he made last season with the Wizards in order to play for a contender.
Chris Bosh, PF
Bosh is considered one of the top-four free agents in this summer's star-studded class. He's also considered the free agent most likely to change teams this summer.
If Bosh decides to leave Toronto, he will have to settle for less money than what the Raptors could offer him. In addition, the Raptors would be left with nothing to show for losing him.
This is why the Lakers have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Bosh dating back to last February's trade deadline.
If the Raptors decide to engage in a sign-and-trade for Bosh, there are only a few teams that could offer them something of substance.
The Lakers could offer Andrew Bynum and Sasha Vujacic's expiring contract to make a deal happen.
Bynum, 22, has two guaranteed seasons left on his current contract with a team-option for a third season.
So even though Bynum has suffered numerous knee injuries, he's still better than nothing should the Raptors decide to accommodate Bosh in a sign-and-trade.
With only two guaranteed years, he poses a minimal risk for the Raptors.
Louis Amundson, PF/C
You're not going to understand what Amundson brings to the table just by looking at his stats.
He's an energy guy who gives maximum effort every time he steps on the court. He's in the same mold as guys like Anderson Varejao and Joakim Noah—just not nearly as talented.
Amundson is a guy who keeps possessions alive by snagging offensive rebounds and taking charges on the defensive end. He's one of the guys that gets under his opponent's skin with sheer hustle and determination—just ask Zach Randolph.
There isn't a team in the league that couldn't use someone like Amundson.
Matt Barnes, SF/SG
Barnes signed a two-year deal with the Orlando Magic last season with a player-option for next season. Shortly after the Magic were eliminated by the Celtics, Barnes exercised his option to become an unrestricted free agent.
While Barnes has already let it be known publicly that he'd like to stay in Orlando, there's a chance that the Magic might have to choose between retaining Barnes or restricted free agent J.J. Redick.
Combine the fact that there's a better chance that Redick is re-signed with the fact the Magic will also be looking to find a back-up for Jameer Nelson at point guard, and the result could be Barnes looking for his eighth team to join for his eighth NBA season.
Barnes is another defensive-minded player who could play multiple positions. He's a good (not great) three-point shooter, but like Amundson brings toughness and hustle to whichever team he's on.
The Lakers could do a lot worse for the price that Barnes might command on the open market.
Barnes has yet to surpass $10 million in career earnings, so he might just be happy to get a guaranteed multi-year deal now that he's 30-years-old.
Andrew Ungvari is co-lead blogger for basketball website, SirCharlesInCharge.com .
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