One of the bigger names still on the NBA market without a home for the 2010-2011 season is Tracy McGrady. McGrady finds himself at a crossroads of his career, having just watched his enormous contract expire, and a future with an unknown or undefined role.
There is one thing McGrady would like, and that is to play for the two-time defending NBA champion Lakers. McGrady voiced his interest in joining Kobe Bryant and company late last month. The only question now is whether Los Angeles will meet his desire and bring him in as a free agent.
McGrady is one of the options the Lakers may pursue to fill out their roster, but what other players currently on the market are the defending champs looking at?
McGrady just got finished a stretch in which he earned nearly $148 million over the last nine years with three different teams. That is going to change significantly if he goes to the Lakers, as not only are they up against the cap, but they do not have a spot in the starting lineup for McGrady.
Nevertheless, McGrady's desire to win should make him a good citizen off the bench and is a likely improvement over Luke Walton. Playing alongside Kobe Bryant should also serve as a significant motivating factor for McGrady.
Barnes is another player with experience off the bench that extends the Lakers' depth chart. Barnes comes off a season in which he averaged 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds in 25 minutes per game last season. He also gives the Lakers a little more athleticism off the bench.
However, the sticking point is that Barnes is rumored to be in search of upwards of $40 million on the market. That is too rich for the Lakers blood, but winning could be a viable argument to get him on the cheap.
Livingston is a bit of a gamble given his checkered injury past. Livingston has appeared in just 48 games over the last two seasons, but his role and demand will be lessened with the Lakers.
Livingston would at best be the fifth guard on the depth chart, but with the aging Derek Fisher on the roster and the Lakers always looking to give Kobe a breather when they can, Livingston can provide valuable depth minutes off the bench at a low cost.
Brown is the leader in the clubhouse for the Lakers. Rumors over the weekend detailed that Brown is close to resigning with the Lakers after Raja Bell took his game to Utah. The only question is how Brown will fit into the depth chart given the amount guards already signed. But regardless, it appears that Brown will stay in purple and gold.
After two years (and two rings) of riding the pine on the Lakers bench, could the team bring back "the mustache" (or whatever else he's sprouting from his face)? Chances are, no they won't. But L.A. is an entertainment kind of town, and watching Morrison's facial hair grow quicker than he would come off the bench is entertainment.
If for whatever reason a deal with Shannon Brown does not get done, the Lakers could feasibly reach out to Earl Watson. Watson averaged 7.8 points and 5.1 assists per game in split time with the Pacers last season. The only sticking point is that Watson is looking for added playing time this season and would likely be relegated behind Derek Fisher and the newly acquired Steve Blake.
Yes, Kurt Thomas is way up there in age, but every team needs an earth mover—someone who will scrap and play hard for rebounds. While Thomas has knees of glass at this point, he is still valuable off the bench as a player who can eat some minutes and not let the rebounding drop off while he's out there. He's a veteran player who has shown the ability to adjust to any role and team.
The Lakers currently have two power forwards on their roster (Odom, Gasol), but Thomas fills out the end of the bench with a very useful tool.
Oh why not?
It's been over five years, can't Shaq and Kobe make up? Shaquille wants one more run a title, he comes on the cheap and he is a big body that can still clog the lane. He is no longer the preeminent force he was during his previous trip in L.A. and now his job comes with an understanding. Ride the bench, drop your salary demands, and give Andrew Bynum a legitimate backup.
If Shaq and Kobe can overcome their quarrel, it isn't such a wacky idea especially considering Atlanta, Dallas and Boston all now appear to be very unlikely spots for Shaq.