Lakers News: Latest on Jose Calderon Trade, Buzz on Maurice Harkless and More

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJuly 7, 2016

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 28:  Jose Calderon #3 of the New York Knicks reacts after receiving a blood nose during the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on March 28, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers missed out on many of the big-name free agents this offseason, but they have added considerable veteran depth to their roster.  

That phenomenon continued on Wednesday when Los Angeles landed point guard Jose Calderon in a trade with the Chicago Bulls.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical broke the news of the Calderon trade. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported the Lakers acquired two future second-round picks while renouncing the rights to an undetermined player.

Basketball Insiders' Tommy Beer best summarized L.A.'s rationale for acquiring Calderon:

Tommy Beer @TommyBeer

D'Angelo Russell couldn't ask for a better veteran mentor than Jose Calderon. Safe to assume that's exactly why the Lakers traded for him...

With a young, new head coach in Luke Walton taking over a talented but youthful squad, the need for a veteran mentor was glaring. Although Luol Deng agreeing to a deal, per The Vertical's Shams Charania, helped in that area, Calderon further bolsters the cause in a big way.

Deng will be more of a direct mentor to No. 2 overall draft pick Brandon Ingram, whereas Calderon will be working frequently with second-year player D'Angelo Russell. 

Although Calderon doesn't have a ton of experience on winning teams, his proficient distributing ability and his three-point shooting should help Los Angeles.

The 34-year-old is a savvy floor general Walton can count on to run the offense well. That should help compensate for the probable errors Russell will make as he continues to acclimate to the pros.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak may not be done rounding out the roster for 2016-17, though. Portland Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless is a restricted free agent, and as Basketball Insiders' Steve Kyler reported, L.A. has been keeping an eye on him for some time:

Steve Kyler @stevekylerNBA

Harkless has been on the Lakers radar for a while... were one of the teams at Orlando when they opted to trade him to Portland.

Harkless is an intriguing player who is only 23 years old, can play the 3 or the 4 and can play defense just about anywhere. He explained how he did so in the opening round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers.

"Half of the possession, I would guard Chris Paul; half of the possession, I would guard Blake Griffin," said Harkless, per CBSSports.com's James Herbert. "It's just different. It shows how versatile you have to be to play those positions now in this new-age NBA.

Considering the Lakers finished 27th last season with 106.9 points allowed per contest, they could use someone like Harkless, who'd be an ideal second-unit spark plug and would give Walton more lineup flexibility.

Another strategy Los Angeles might opt for is bolstering its frontcourt with a more traditional big man. ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne reported the team is interested in Tyler Zeller, indicating its priorities on the open market were rim protection and shooting.

Zeller could be among the best bargains among players who've yet to sign anywhere. He isn't likely to return to the Boston Celtics after they agreed to terms on a max contract with Al Horford, per Shelburne.

With the versatility to play the 4 and the 5, Zeller would fit into Walton's system rather well. Zeller is also used to pushing the pace because of his time in Boston, so he'd be a logical addition from a general-schematic standpoint too.

The Lakers brought in Timofey Mozgov through free agency, per Wojnarowski, but Zeller is a more dynamic athlete who should have ample opportunities to play big minutes and make a significant impact.

A young core of Russell, Ingram, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle gives Los Angeles pieces to work with for the future. How successful the Lakers can be in 2016-17 will likely depend on those players' collective progress on and off the court, shaped by how well they fit and how much they learn from L.A.'s haul of veterans.


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