NBA Free Agents 2011: 5 Under-the-Radar Free Agents the LA Lakers Should Pursue
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There's no question what the Lakers need this summer. Youth, athleticism, perimeter defense, bench scoring and backup big men who'll bring toughness.
Unfortunately, just like this year's NBA Draft, there's no glamorous free agent that everybody wants and most of the available players are nothing more than great role players that aren't as attractive to the naked eye.
It's all the more reason why the Lakers should target these players. They may be unlikely targets but they can step in and contribute. With their current dynasty in that awkward transition challenge from staying relevant or planning ahead after Kobe Bryant, these players can address both needs.
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Brooks has tormented the Lakers as a scoring dynamo and at 26, he’s the perfect fit as a young guard who can take the scoring load off Kobe Bryant while offering an upgrade to their lack of speed.
Brooks would also be an upgrade over Steve Blake, who has fallen out of favor with Laker fans after disappearing in the postseason. He’s not a true point guard like Blake but he’s a better scoring option and his speed could make him less of a liability on defense.
He's also a restricted free agent so Phoenix could choose to match any offer that the Lakers or any team makes to him.
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With Shannon Brown having regressed last season, the Lakers might want to turn to another Michigan State alumnus with a more proven jump shot and surefire toughness on defense. Enter former slam dunk champion Jason Richardson.
Richardson’s a career 37% shooter from three-point land and has averaged just over a steal per game. Lakers fans who remember Richardson being a threat in the Western Conference Finals in 2010 might be thrilled to see him potentially run with Lamar Odom as the leader of the bench.
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The 6’9" Landry has been a tormentor of the Lakers over the last few seasons and that makes him perfect to be a target of their recent passion for turning former foes into friends (see Ron Artest and Steve Blake).
Landry would not only be reunited with Artest, his former Houston teammate, but he’d give them extra toughness in the post as a quality rebounder/defender. It’s a perfect fit for new coach Mike Brown and his defense-first philosophy. With Houston in rebuilding mode, Landry might be looking to move to a contender.
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This may be the easiest free agent the Lakers have to recruit as Afflalo grew up in Los Angeles and starred there in high school and at UCLA. Afflalo may be a restricted free agent with the Nuggets but he meets several requirements the team needs.
Youth? Check (25 years old). Scoring on the perimeter? Check with averaging nearly 50 percent from the field and 42.3 percent on threes last year. He’s also a decent defender who may remind Lakers fans of Trevor Ariza.
He’ll not only help the team now but in the future as well.
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Only the keenest hoops observers know that Evans is one of the best under-the-radar rebounders in the league as he averaged 11.5 rebounders in only 30 games with Toronto last season, including a season high 22 against the 76ers.
Evans reminds some of Dennis Rodman or Ben Wallace with his singular focus on rebounding and could bring some added intensity to the Lakers frontcourt. He also averaged four offensive rebounds so he’ll be quick to turn several misses into second-chance opportunities.