6 Players Los Angeles Lakers Could Target to Bolster Point Guard Depth

David Murphy@@davem234Featured ColumnistNovember 3, 2014

6 Players Los Angeles Lakers Could Target to Bolster Point Guard Depth

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    Fernando Medina/Getty Images

    With the Los Angeles Lakers losing Steve Nash for the season, an obvious need has emerged.

    As Lakers coach Byron Scott recently said, the team is “probably going to have to look for" somebody to plug the point guard hole.

    That’s a misstatement if ever there was one. The Lakers are currently relying on Jeremy Lin and journeyman Ronnie Price to do the heavy lifting, with rookie Jordan Clarkson getting backup minutes at both the point and shooting guard positions.

    The Lakers have applied for injury exceptions for both Nash and rookie Julius Randle, who went down with a broken leg in his NBA debut. The exceptions would be worth up to $4.85 million for Nash and $1.5 million for Randle, and they cannot be combined.

    But while the team’s need for added depth is clear, the available talent pool is extremely thin. That will change incrementally over the next two weeks, as Nov. 15 is the deadline by which teams must either exercise contract options on players with unguaranteed deals or cut bait.

    There’s always the possibility of a trade as well. But with the season barely a week old, there simply aren’t a lot of players on the block.

    For now, the inventory pool is primarily comprised of undrafted rookies, veterans at the end of the line and niche players who roam the fringes of professional basketball—hoping for that elusive NBA chance.

Jamaal Tinsley

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    At age 36, Jamaal Tinsley would be a proven veteran presence on the bench. The longtime Indiana Pacers starter has played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles D-Fenders and Utah Jazz in recent years.

    At 6’2” and nearly 200 pounds, Tinsley has always had a reputation as a tough on-ball defender and dependable ball-handler. He isn’t prone to turnovers and likes to get his teammates involved.                

    Tinsley’s career averages of 8.5 points and 6.1 assists are solid enough, and during his peak years, he was one of the league’s assists leaders.

    But would a safe choice actually do anything to bolster the fortunes of a team that’s still looking for its first win?

    The Lakers would get an insurance player in Tinsley, but they need more than that now.

Carlos Arroyo

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    Currently playing overseas, the much-traveled Carlos Arroyo had his best years with the Utah Jazz and Orlando Magic.

    Now 35, Arroyo’s strength has always been as a creative scorer, using above-average ball-handling skills to slip past defenders and get free for mid-range jumpers.

    Whether he’ll ever be back in the Association is another story. Born in Puerto Rico, the 6’2” point guard has frequently played international ball throughout his career and has been in the Turkish league since 2011.

    In a recent interview with David Alarcon for HoopsHype, Arroyo indicated that returning to the NBA was a long shot in light of a new contract with Galatasaray in Turkey: “I've always had an NBA out option, but this is a new contract. If I leave the team, it will be through a buyout.”

    Arroyo has gone to three consecutive finals in the Turkish league and is a legitimate Euroleague star. Would he toss that away to be a bench player for the Lakers during an ongoing rebuild?

    It’s doubtful. Then again, never doubt the lure of the NBA.

Sasha Vujacic

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Sasha Vujacic is another former NBA player currently playing overseas. But unlike some others, the former Laker would probably jump for joy to return to L.A.

    Born in Slovenia, the precocious 6’7” guard was an up-and-coming star in the Italian League when he was drafted by the Lakers in 2004.

    Dubbed “The Machine”, Vujacic became a crowd favorite in Los Angeles, although he never earned a starting role.

    Although he played the point in Europe, Vujacic was transitioned into a shooting guard by Lakers coach Phil Jackson. It was a fluctuating role—he was switched back to point guard for his sophomore season and in specific situations thereafter, including a number of games during the latter part of the 2009-10 season.

    Overall, he played hyperactive defense, was a streaky three-point shooter and paid dividends at the charity stripe—including game-clinching free throws against the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals.

    Last season, Vujacic played briefly for the Los Angeles Clippers. He recently signed a contract with Baskonia in the Spanish League.

Manny Harris

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Corperryale L’Adorable “Manny” Harris went undrafted out of Michigan in 2010, but played parts of two seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s been one of the NBA D-League’s true stars since then, playing mostly at the shooting guard position but also running the point at times.

    Last season, Harris averaged 31.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists with the Lakers’ D-League affiliate—the Los Angeles D-Fenders. That earned him a call-up to the Lakers, averaging 8.1 points in nine games before being sent back.

    The 6'5" volume scorer subsequently played overseas for Turk Telekom Ankara in the Turkish League. 

    He’s now with the D-Fenders again for the new D-League season.

    The Lakers have this guy in their back pocket. And while not an obvious choice to run the point, he could certainly help fill out the guard rotation and bring a much-needed scoring punch off the bench.

Keith Appling

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    Frank Franklin/Associated Press

    Keith Appling was a point guard star in college, playing under coach Tom Izzo at Michigan State for a full four years.

    He went undrafted in June, however, and played for the Portland Trail Blazers in summer league before being signed by the Lakers to a training camp contract.

    The 6’1” rookie suffered a shoulder injury in his second preseason game and was ultimately waived. Since then, however, he has signed with the D-Fenders.

    Appling has plenty of speed in the open court but was often used as a distributor by Izzo for Michigan State. His ability to play off-ball offense and solid defense was a factor in the Lakers giving him a look in training camp and then parking him with their D-League team.

    Scott has preached the need for lockdown perimeter defenders, and indeed, the Lakers have suffered so far against outside shooters. At age 22, Appling still has upside and is readily available for a call-up.

    He would have to be 100 percent healthy, however, to be of any use to a roster that is already hurting.

A.J. Price

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    A.J. Price just became available after being waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    The 6'2" point guard averaged 7.2 points and 1.5 assists in 13.3 minutes per game during six preseason appearances. 

    Price has five NBA seasons under his belt, playing with the Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards and Minnesota Timberwolves, as well as the Cavaliers during this preseason.

    His best year was 2012-13 with the Wizards when he averaged 7.7 points and 3.6 assists in just over 22 minutes per game.

    The former UConn star has good speed and agility and a decent long-range jumper. He’ll never be a star in the NBA, but he’ll probably get picked up before long to bolster somebody’s bench.

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