The NBA Lottery is tomorrow night (go Celtics) but that doesnâ€™t impact the Lakers, picking 19th. The draft isnâ€™t the fast way to improve this team.
Instead, letâ€™s look at the available free agents at the point guard, plus power forward and center spots. These are spots the Lakers need an upgrade
But to do it with a free agent will be a challenge for the Lakers as they only have the mid-level exception (MLE) to spend. That is going to be about $5.7 to $6 million a year next year, for up to five years (that is what the Lakers used to get Radmanovic last summer).
The bottom line, the list of players the Lakers can afford is unimpressive and has you thinking trade. Here is a non-exhaustive list and some thoughts on the available guys (not including trades):
Good but too expensive: Chauncy Billups (Detroit), Mo Williams (Milwaukee). Iâ€™d offer Mo the full MLE, but the Bucks can and would match that. My guess is Mo makes between $7-$8 million next year, maybe more as there arenâ€™t a lot of good free agent point guards and a lot of teams with needs there.
Please No: Chucky Atkins (Memphis), Gary Payton (Miami), Jason Hart (Clippers), Keyon Dooling (Orlando), Charlie Bell (Memphis). Especially if the Lakers end up having to give up Farmar in a big off-season trade, then someone like Bell, Dooling or Hart could be a decent backup if you can get them for about half the MLE for a couple seasons. But thatâ€™s it.
Guys Iâ€™d like (or at least live with): Steve Blake (Denver). He can shoot the three (41.3% two years ago, Iâ€™d throw out much of this years numbers), he stepped up pretty well in the playoffs, and his opponent defense this season was pretty good in Denver (opposing PGs shot 46% and had a PER of 14.8 against him, for comparison Smush let opposing PGs have a PER of 18). I think the combo of Blake and Farmar could be good, if the Lakers get a stronger defensive/intimidating precence in the paint. The question is will the MLE be enough to lure him out of Denver?
Guys not mentioned yet: Earl Boykins (Milwaukee), Mike Bibby (Sacramento). Bibby is only a free agent if he walks away from the two years, $28 million, which he would be an idiot to do because heâ€™ll never make that on the open market. Boykins, love the energy, but just is too small as a starting PG defensively.
Good but too expensive: Chris Webber (Detroit), Anderson Varejao (Cleveland). Webber would be great offenisvie fit in the triangle but his defense is questionable, and heâ€™s going to make more than the MLE. Varejao would be a great fit but he is a restricted free agent and no way Cleveland lets him go for the MLE.
Please no: Dale Davis (Detroit), Dikembe Mutombo (Houston), PJ Brown (Chicago). Motombo is 41 right now, Brown and Davis are 38. Just too old to play major minutes, and the Lakers need someone who can play minutes.
Guys I like (or could at least live with): Jamal Magloire (Portland), Mikki Moore (New Jersey). I donâ€™t love either of these guys, but if in a trade you move Kwame and/or Bynum, you need another big body. These guys would fit the bill and likely bring more production, particularly on offense.
Guys not mentioned: Corrlis Williamson (Sacramento), Marc Jackson (New Orleans).