Despite the Lakers’ headline-grabbing offseason moves that put together the best starting five in the NBA, GM Mitch Kupchak is still busy solidifying a somewhat thin Lakers’ bench. The Lakers are set at point guard, shooting guard, and power forward, not in terms of talent but in terms of players that have guaranteed roster spots. At point, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Darius Morris, and Chris Duhon have a guaranteed roster spot so they can’t afford to make any moves there. Kobe Bryant and Jodie Meeks have secure spots at shooting guard, but Andrew Goudelock’s contract is nonguaranteed. There won’t be many minutes available at shooting guard so a move to sign a shoot-first two guard, like Barbosa, doesn’t make much sense for the Lakers. At power forward, Pau Gasol, Antawn Jamison and Earl Clark will all make the regular season roster so there’s no need making moves at PF.
That leaves center and small forward. It’s the reason Kupchak has only signed players at those two positions since the Dwight Howard trade. SF Reeves Nelson, C Greg Somogyi, and C Robert Sacre have all been signed to nonguaranteed contracts in the past week. These contracts are nothing more than an invitation to the Lakers’ training camp. Instead of taking risks on rookie players, the Lakers’ front office should be looking to a free agent pool that is still loaded with talented veterans.
C Mehmet Okur is an unrestricted free agent that has been bouncing around the NBA and Euro League for the past year. To avoid an extended lockout last summer, Okur went to Turkey to play basketball but returned to the NBA in December 2011. Utah traded Okur to New Jersey and was subsequently traded to Portland four months later. He was then waived by Portland without playing a game, meaning Okur has not played a full season since 2009-2010 because of a ruptured Achilles’ tendon in 2010. In the 2009 season, Okur averaged 13.5 points and 7.1 rebounds a game, shooting 46% from the field. He is a talented big man that can rebound and shoot from the perimeter if need be. The Lakers’ should consider inviting Okur to training camp. Teams are shying away from Okur because he’s had some bad luck the past two seasons, but it could be worth the risk.
Another player that has yet to be signed is Terrence Williams, the third-year SF out of Louisville. Williams has been involved in talks with the Boston Celtics recently. He’s a talented player that has been spent time in the D-League and NBA in the past few years. He can shoot and play defense, but most importantly he can create a shot for himself, one thing neither Metta World-Peace nor Devin Ebanks can do at small forward.
Lastly, Josh Howard, who played for Utah last year is on the market. Lakers fans should remember Howard killing Los Angeles from 2003-2010 with the Dallas Mavericks. Howard tore his ACL in early 2010 but returned for the 2011 season with the Jazz. His production has suffered the past few seasons but he can play defense and is a tough matchup at small forward.
It’s clear the Lakers are still looking to bolster their roster but instead of trying to sign the most talented player available, they should consider other players that will fill the holes in their rotation.
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