Signing Day

Kurt —  July 12, 2006

It’s official, the Lakers have inked Vladimir Radmanovic and Shammond Williams to free agent deals. Vlad, as had been long reported, is getting the full mid-level exception for five years, which will total about $31 million. Williams is getting a one-year deal for $1.75 million.

It’s pretty clear I’m not on Shammond’s bandwagon, but the more I’ve thought about it the more I realize my concerns are less about Shammond than with team direction. As Sanchez101 put well in the comments, Mitch Kupchak has taken a page from the Ned Colletti school of building a bullpen — bring in a bunch of cheap guys and hope one pans out. That’s what the Lakers have done at the one — last year Smush was one of those cheap players who worked out pretty well, this year Shammond is just one of the darts being thrown at the board. I’ll add, and it’s early to say this, but after watching a few games I think by January Jordan Farmar could be the guy subbing out Smush.

Today’s two signings should make the Lakers a more dangerous offensive team — both guys can shoot the ball from the outside and space a defense. And maybe Mitch believes that was the top off-season priority, the one that makes this a 50-win team in the West and gets us to the second round of the playoffs (or beyond).

But I still think what will set teams apart in the coming years is the ability to adjust defensively to the new rule enforcement — the teams that use good defensive players on the perimeter and good defensive rotations inside to, as much as possible, negate the impact of great perimeter players and the rules that now enable them. Having players, such as Kobe (and to a lesser degree Odom) who can exploit the rules enforcement is key, but the top teams will all have a guy or guys like that, defense is what will put teams over the top.

And, as they stand today, I think the Lakers are a worse defensive team than they were last year, particularly on the perimeter. And I fear that may offset the offensive improvement. I hope I’m wrong, maybe in year or so Farmar is that defensive guy, but that’s my concern about the off-season so far.