Free Agency Opens

Kurt —  July 1, 2006

Right after midnight, Mitch Kupchak made a phone call or two. Not the kind of midnight phone call I used to make back in my single days after stumbling home from a bar, although I guess we were both looking for a little help.

The Lakers are looking for help in two key areas from free agency (or possible summer trades): 1) backcourt help, specifically a veteran who can defend at the point; 2) some scoring punch at the three (so Walton can come off the bench). These were pretty obvious areas of need, but Kupchak has confirmed these as priorities in recent interviews.

Below are the names of some guys who the Lakers will likely take a look at and maybe even offer a deal to, with a few thoughts and stats thrown in. These are preliminaries, if things get serious with someone we’ll get into detail then.

First, let’s start with the one guy we know will be in a Laker uniform next year, Maurice Evans. I turned to one of the best bloggers out there, Tom Ziller from Sactown Royalty, to give me his impressions (remember Evans played for Sacramento two years ago):

Mo Evans is one of those guys with a “motor” that does some of everything when he comes into the game. He’s not a sparkplug like a Bobby Jackson or Ronnie Turiaf, but he does get in to do the gritty work when needed. Not a great scorer, so the Lakers will still need someone to break Kobe as far as the scoring load goes, but he’s not going to embarrass himself out there either. He needs consistent minutes to stay confident. He rebounds well as the need arises. Best asset might be man defense – not a Bowen, but he can definitely stay in front of his opponent. A true role-player.

Marcus Banks: This is the obvious choice, and it’s certainly not a bad one. I’ve written about him at length on this site, but the bottom line is he can defend and he can shoot the three. Most importantly, he’s within the Lakers price range — his agent says he wants the full MLE, which is what the Lakers likely would offer. His agent also talked up the Lakers. And Mitch tried to get him two years ago. You get the idea.

Sam Cassell. This is the hot rumor, apparently even Kobe has backed the idea of getting Cassell (although I wonder how much of this heat is driven by Sam’s agent — if you wanted to put pressure on the Clippers is there a better way than suggesting you might sign with the Lakers?). I am not a fan of the Lakers signing Sam for three reasons: 1) He’s 36; 2) I don’t think he’d like his role in the triangle, Cassell is used to having the ball in his hands, which could lead to “Gary Payton Syndrome”; 3) He can’t defend. Here’s what Kevin from Clipperblog said:

Herein lies the problem with Sam Cassell – Jack Black could take him off the dribble…..

Now, I know if you look up Cassell’s stats for last year you’d argue that he defends quite well (opposing points shot just 45.9% and had a PER if 15.4)) but I think that had to do more with the fact anyone who got past him had to deal with Kaman and Brand. The year before in Minnesota it was a PER of 17.9, and Cassell is two years older now.

Bobby Jackson: This would probably be my guy, but with only a two-year offer of the MLE with a team option for the third year (when ideally Farmar can step in). He’s not tall like Phil prefers (6-1) but he’s a solid defender (opponent PER of just 15.5, about average, although they shot 50.2%) and he hit 38.9% of his threes last season. He was a +2.1. I think he fits the “point” position in the triangle well. And, like Ziller said above in the Evans quote, Jackson is a spark plug.

Al Harrington: Atlanta is looking to deal him and he’d be a great fit at the three for Lakers. To get him likely will mean a sign and trade of Mihm and another player/draft pick. Rumor is Indiana, Golden State and Minnesota also will go after him, so would that Laker offer even be good enough? Last season in Atlanta Harrington had shot 34.6% from three, had a true shooting percentage of 51.3% and had a PER of 16. He will not be option #1, but if he’s willing to be #3 he’d be a good fit.

Kurt

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18 responses to Free Agency Opens

  1. The team defeinitely needs help atr the SF and PG spot. For the PG, they need a starter who can play tough D and can hit from mid-long range particularly catch and shoot situations. Cassell, Jackson, and Banks are good fits, any of the three will be a great addition. Let’s not worry about signing banks for more than three years. They can always trade him if Farmar develops ahead of time and is ready to step in. For the SF spot, the team needs an agressive scorer, not necessarily a starter. they already have enough scoring punch in the first part of the games, it’s the time when kobe starts to rest at the start to mid 2nd quarter that the team has problems scoring. That leads me to believe that we need a Stackhouse type or a Kukoc (chicago days) that comes in late in the first quarter and is the primary scorer when the starters get their rest. Al Harrington may fit the bill, or even Grant Hill if he is waived by orlando. The team also needs a veteran C/PF that can play 18-20mins/game and spell Kwame and lamar. Antonio Davis or Alonzo Mourning can be considered. If the team can sign Banks/Jackson/Cassell for the MLE, trade Mihm, Cook, mckie/sasha/smush for Harrington (Atlanta is looking for a C and a playmaker) and sign Mourning/Davis type vet for the LLE, then I think it will be a successful off season and the lakers will be a serious threat in the west.

  2. As a Pistons fan, I’ll give you my thoughts on Mo Evans having watched him last year.

    Offensively, he’s great at hitting spot-up threes from the sides of the court. But his jumper from anywhere else (even closer to the hoop) is terrible. He can’t really dribble or create his own shot at all. He does a good job crashing the offensive boards. He’s a great athlete with great hops but because he can’t dribble he can really only utilize this on fast breaks and putbacks.

    Defensively, he’s decent. He’s active, and tries hard, but his lateral quickness isn’t that great. He can’t guard the better wing scorers in the league. His defense on the whole is very inconsistent, some nights being good and some nights being terrible.

    Overall, he’s a solid role player in an 8th or 9th man role. The Pistons dumped him to free up cash and to open up playing time for Carlos Delfino, who’s younger and better but was lost in the shuffle in part because Mo was Flip Saunders’ guy from way back (he coached him in Minny in 01-02).

  3. Thanks Jake. He’s not perfect but as a guy off the bench he’ll work well for us, I think.

  4. I should add that I didn’t put Peja on the list becuase: 1) It was late and I was tired; 2) To admit a bias, he’s just not a favorite of mine. Intellectually I know he’d fit well, and if you put him in Laker colors I’ll root hard for him, but he’s classic soft guy to me. For the same money, through a sign-and-trade, I’d prefer Harrington.

  5. It was a longshot for us anyway, but the dream of getting Jason Terry is gone:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2506660

  6. Lakers sign Vladimir Radmanovic to a 5 year, 30 million deal per LA times.

  7. In retaliation, the Clips have signed Tim Thomas. Peja has gone on over to the Hornets for a whopping 60 million. By the way, there goes Banks…

  8. Does this pretty much mean that Smush will be our starting PG next season?

    And can Radmanovic play any perimeter D?

  9. I suppose it will be some combination of Smush/Sasha/Farmar, unless we can get some old guy to play for the veteran’s minimum (aaron mckie redux?).

    and no, radmanovic is a stone on D.

  10. PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFTBWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! This is it. End of the “rebuilding” phase. By signing Vlade to the long-term deal the Lakers are now over the cap pretty much until his deal expires. This is your Laker franchise for the next 5 years.

    I think it is a stretch to call the rumored TThomas signing a “retaliation”, but he’s an upgrade over Vlade. A caller to 570 said that Vlade going to the Lakers was Buss’ way of showing who runs the city. By stealing away the Clippers’ third-string small forward at the total expense of the 2007 plan, the 2008 plan, and just about any other plan? Actually I have to agree, its pretty clear which management group has their stuff together.

    Corey is going to toast him 4 times a year. I look forward to it.

    Remaining Laker assets…Mihm (though Vlade is really a 3 so to trade Mihm now would be a mistake IMHO), the LLE, and sign-and-trade for George if they can find a sucker. in terms of PG’s that should net…poop.

  11. The LA Times article also mentions Cassell no longer signing with the Clippers, but does not elaborate. Can you imagine the clubhouse morale next season going from Sam to Tim? Oh, and what the heck are we doing about pg next year? Since we just used the MLE, it looks like a trade may be in the works. Or we hope Smush improves greatly. (I may be in the minority, but I believe it’s possible next year, even likely in two years.)

  12. Radmanovic isn’t going to start, is he?

    Size wise, not a bad frontline of him, Mihm/Brown and Odom. Bring Walton off the bench.

    Still need a point, in which I’m thinking trading Mihm to bring someone in.

  13. that’s a lot of money to be locked up in kwame and vlade who effectively amount to one good player when you count offense and defense.

  14. I wonder if this is the reaction to the Heat winning the finals. I mean is the Lakers management basically thinking that they can assemble and odd team with no real regard for all the parts fitting together, but if Kobe gets on a roll and the refs just give him all the calls they can still win a championship? Especially with Phil on the bench?

  15. I was out all day Saturday, then found out about Vlad when I got home. I’ve gotten a post up. Bottom line, the Laker offense just got better but the defense goit worse. And I’m not sold the offensive side of the ball what where we needed to focus.

    But yes Zach, I’d be shocked if Vlad isn’t the starting three (or four, if you want to call Odom the three) on opening night.

  16. A lot of you guys have got it wrong. #10, have you forgotten that Brian Grant’s 14M comes off the books after this season? and if we don’t re-sign Devean George, then thats another 5M for a sign and trade, or thru a direct trade. and if indeed a trade is in the works, then those players being traded will free up some salary space. #12. I still say that radmanovic will come off the bench. luke is and will be a better starter because of his playmaking skills and sound decision making, and vlade will be most likely the sixth man. Sam apparently not signing with the clips may mean something… this “quick” signing means a trade will be coming or additional moves from the front office, so let’s not whine this early. let’s make our judgements come tip off time next season

  17. #16 Hmm, this is way late, but Grant’s contract coming off doesn’t actually buy them any salary cap room at all. You don’t appear to have a firm grasp on the salary cap system.

    It would pull them out of the luxury tax, but because he was the amnesty they aren’t in it techinically. But him coming off is almost totally offset by Kobe’s, Lamar’s and Kwame’s scheduled raises and the signing of Radmanovich and his raises so there will be no space. Then Kobe’s, Lamar’s and Vlade’s raises will offset Kwame potentially coming off the books so resigning or sign-and-trading Kwame will be the Laker’s main options the year after that, but its true in 2 years hence the Lakers will have some money but not max contract money.

    http://www.hoopshype.com/salaries/la_lakers.htm

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