Listen, Lakers fans, I'd love to see Dwight Howard and Chris Paul join Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in Los Angeles as much as the next guy, but that isn't about to happen overnight, especially with the NBA trade market being as uncertain as it is amidst this brand new collective bargaining agreement.
As disappointing as the Purple and Gold were last season, they still have more than enough talent on their roster—between Kobe, Pau, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and
Ron Artest Metta World Peace—to compete for at least one more Larry O'Brien Trophy.
The key, aside from how new head coach Mike Brown fills Phil Jackson's Hall of Fame shoes, will be what general manager Mitch Kupchak does to fill out the fringes of his roster via free agency with but a $3 million midlevel exception with which to work..
If he's serious about chasing another championship with the core that he has on hand, he'd do well to reach out to these veterans in search of new homes.
Which free agent would be the best buy for the Lakers?
A move to LA would be a fitting turn in Mike Bibby's long and winding career. Bibby was a veritable villain in the City of Angels during his days as the lead guard for the Sacramento Kings, with whom the Lakers enjoyed a fierce rivalry in the early 2000s.
Bibby is hardly the 15-point, five-assist, three-rebound player that he once was, though he's still more than capable of serving as a quality backup behind Derek Fisher.
More importantly, Bibby is still a legitimate threat from the three-point arc—something the Lakers have lacked for years now. In fact, Bibby is coming off the finest sharp-shooting season of his career, wherein he hit better than 44 percent of his long-range attempts for the Atlanta Hawks and the Miami Heat.
If the front office decides to use the amnesty clause to excise Steve Blake's contract from the cap, look for Kupchak to chase after Bibby as his replacement.
Should Shannon Brown decide to test the market, the Lakers would then need to find another athletic swingman capable of backing up the Black Mamba.
Now, Jamario Moon is far from the ideal option, but he'd make a ton of sense given the situation. At 6'8" and a slim 205 pounds, he's has the hops to take the ball to the basket, the stroke to hit the occasional perimeter jumper and the lateral quickness to defend on the perimeter.
Moon is also eminently familiar with what's gone on at the Staples Center since the summer, having played under Mike Brown in Cleveland and spent the second half of the 2010-11 season with the Clippers.
And when it comes to the economics of basketball, Moon fits the Lakeshow's budget as an inexpensive option who shouldn't command more than the $3 million per year that LA can offer.
As far as front court depth is concerned, the Lakers need desperately to find another big man who can provide relief for Gasol and Bynum and stay healthier than Theo Ratliff did last season.
Shelden Williams fits the bill well enough, given LA's salary constraints. At 6'9" and 250 pounds, the former Duke Blue Devil is undersized for the role but possesses plenty of strength and defensive acuity to fill the role Mike Brown would need him to.
What's more, a move to LA would bring Shelden closer to wifey Candace Parker, who currently stars for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA.
Not that the Lakers would necessarily care, but it'd make for a heartwarming storyline, wouldn't it?