From Kevin Ding, Orange County Register: The Lakers continue to become a better team this offseason on the sheer basis of experience. Shot-blocking center Theo Ratliff, 37, signed a one-year deal for $1.35 million, the veterans’ minimum salary, on Thursday evening. He gives the Lakers a far more savvy and dependable big man to fill in for Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom than last season, when the Lakers didn’t get much at all from Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga.
From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: The Laker roster may be officially set, for all intents and purposes. On a busy Thursday, the team added two new bodies to the mix. The bigger name is small forward Matt Barnes, a Cali kid and UCLA product now making $3.6 mil over two seasons. The smaller (though, ironically, taller) player is veteran’s minimum-priced center Theo Ratliff, who first began blocking NBA shots in the late ’70s. (Okay, 1995.) Two veterans who appear pretty stoked at a shot to ride the O’Brien train. Barnes is the flashier signing, between his profile, flirtation with seemingly every team under the sun, and prematurely announced sign-and-trade to the Raptors. Of the two newbies, he is the one figuring to become a rotation mainstay.
From Eliot Teaford, Los Angeles Daily News: Forward/center Theo Ratliff signed a one-season deal with the Lakers today, giving the team a replacement for Josh Powell, who is about to sign with the Atlanta Hawks. The deal is for $1.3 million for the 15-year veteran who played last season with the San Antonio Spurs and the Charlotte Bobcats. The signing of Ratliff gives the Lakers 10 players under contract. It’s possible they could sign forwards Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks, a pair of second-round draft picks, and then add a low-budget guard to fill out the roster.
From Mark Medina, Los Angeles Times: The Lakers took another step toward rounding out their bench, agreeing to terms with 37-year-old center Theo Ratliff on Thursday. Ratliff, who signed a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum of $1.35 million, gives the Lakers an experienced defensive presence among their reserves. Next season will be the 16th for Ratliff, who began his career with Detroit in 1995, when Andrew Bynum was 8 years old.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: It’s been an active day for Mitch Kupchak and his efforts to shore up the Lakers’ bench. First came news that Theo Ratliff signed a one-year deal to fill the role played by D.J. Mbenga last year. The 37-year-old Ratliff will make the veteran’s minimum of $1.37 million. A couple hours later, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Matt Barnes has agreed to join the Lakers on a two-year, $3.6 million deal. Barnes could’ve made almost twice that amount if he’d signed with the Cavaliers, but the man wanted to play for a contender and was willing to take a discount for that privilege.
From ESPN.com: Veteran swingman Matt Barnes, one of the most coveted free agents left on the open market, is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers. The seven-year veteran announced the move via his Twitter feed on Thursday, and the Lakers confirmed the deal. Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Barnes agreed to a two-year contract worth $3.6 million. “Its official I AM A LOS ANGLES LAKER. I wanna thank u for all ur patients and understanding. This is a dream come true!!! Good lookn Kobe,” Barnes posted on his Twitter feed.
From David Aldridge, NBA.com: The Los Angeles Lakers won the battle for one of the last fussed-over free agents on Thursday, agreeing to terms with Orlando Magic free agent forward Matt Barnes on a two-year, $3.6 million deal. Barnes turned down more money from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had offered a multi-year deal worth more than $3 million annually. The Celtics and Heat also had pursued Barnes, who finally found a team after a proposed sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors fell apart earlier in the week.
From Elliot Teaford, Los Angeles Daily News: Matt Barnes signed tonight with the Lakers. The deal is for $1.77 million next season and then about $2 milion for 2011-12 at his option. He joins Theo Ratliff, who was signed earlier today, and Steve Blake, who put pen to paper, earlier this month. Those three represent a significant upgrade to the Lakers’ second unit, which got run off the court far too often last season. About all Mitch Kupchak needs to do now is sign second-round draft picks Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks to complete the Lakers’ 13-man roster.
From Ian Thompson, Sports Illustrated: The defending champs should be favored to repeat despite the sea change in Miami. Should Miami and L.A. meet in June, Kobe Bryant — the league’s best postseason player — and two-time champ Pau Gasol can expect to win their postseason matchups against Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, respectively, and Ron Artest can neutralize some of LeBron James’ strengths. That leaves center Andrew Bynum (if healthy, a yet unrealized if) to make the same kind of difference he made in the early games of the Finals against Boston, when he joined with Gasol to become a maniacal shot-blocker and efficient scorer.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: By one measure at least, he’s the country’s most popular. A new Harris Interactive shows Kobe Bryant has caught Tiger Woods as America’s most popular athlete. Granted, Woods’ recent history brought him back to the field in a big way, but it doesn’t change the basic reality: The “love me or hate me” thing with Bryant is dead, and has been for a while now. Love won.