Nothing is free these days—most notably free agents in the NBA.
The Los Angeles Lakers pay dearly for their championship-caliber roster, yet they find themselves in need of more pieces as they seek another title to add to their 16 banners that adorn the rafters of Staples Center.
If and when the Grand Canyon of NBA lockouts is over, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers will try to uncover a free agent or two who could put them over the top and make them title favorites again.
Their dismal disappearance from the playoffs this past spring was proof that the team that started the 2010-11 season as a favorite to three-peat was actually two or three players short of taking another crown.
Los Angeles needs a strong point guard, a consistent perimeter shooter and a strong, defensive forward who will play with passion every night and be a complement to the seven-foot tandem of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
The chances of the Lakers taking care of any one of these needs through a free-agent signing are rather slim, given that their current payroll is in excess of $91 million.
If the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that is still to be ironed out by owners and players determines that the luxury tax is a thing of the past and that revenue sharing is the new business model, then the Lakers will be hard pressed to scoop up one of the top free agents.
Still, there is reason to hope—Los Angeles always seems to find a way to bring in a piece or two every offseason. The key question is, can the Lakers sign the free agent that’s going to make them the odds-on favorites to capture the NBA championship in 2012?
Let’s take a look at five gems the Lakers would love to bring to Los Angeles. We'll leave the math up to the bean counters.