It’s official. The Lakers have just signed 37 year-old Theo Ratliff to a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum salary of $1.35 million.
The 15-year veteran is best known for his defensive work in the post. He has averaged 2.4 blocked shots per game in his career and led the league three times in the category.
Ratliff, who will backup Andrew Bynum, ranks 18th in NBA history with 1,963 blocks. It may be a bit of a stretch, but I’m sure the Lakers hope he can reach the 2,000 mark playing limited minutes.
After seeing very limited minutes most of last season with San Antonio, where he averaged only 1.6 points and 1.9 rebounds in 21 games, Ratliff was traded to Charlotte and started games, averaging 5.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots in 22.3 minutes a game.
For his career, Ratliff has averaged 7.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.45 blocks and 25.5 minutes with the Pistons, 76ers, Hawks, Trail Blazers, Timberwolves, Spurs and Bobcats.
The Lakers still have one more iron in the fire and are awaiting a decision from free agent forward Matt Barnes.
They offered Barnes $1.77 million next season. That’s the most the Lakers have in their coffers for a free agent after spending $4 million of their $5.77million mid-level exception on guard Steve Blake.
UPDATE: Barnes just agreed to join the Lakers for $3.6 million. The deal will pay him $1.7 million next season and give him a player option for $1.9 million in 2011-12.
Barnes, a friend of Kobe Bryant, needed to decide between the Lakers $1.77 million and double that amount which Cleveland had offered him.
Since leaving UCLA in 2002, Barnes has been with seven teams in seven years and has averaged 7.3 points per game. He has made nearly one-third of his shots from three-point range.
This may be another case where Kobe Bryant added his influence to get his friend to join the Lakers.