Still Searching For Perimeter Help

Darius Soriano —  August 2, 2012

The Lakers’ roster, for all intents and purposes, is nearly set. The point guard position is settled between the Steves and the big man rotation is set in stone with the addition of Antawn Jamison and the return of Jordan Hill to team with mainstays Gasol and Bynum. Add in Kobe and Ron and the Lakers already have an eight man rotation that, on paper, look to be better than last year’s.

However, when scanning that list of players, you’ll notice that the Lakers are still light on the wing. Kobe and Ron can’t be expected to play 48 minutes a night and will need capable back ups to give them the rest they need. Devin Ebanks is expected to return on a one year deal but is not yet signed. (Side note: one reason that Ebanks may not yet be signed is the fact that it frees up a roster spot for the team to make a trade. There are other reasons as well, but having that roster flexibility gives the Lakers options while also allowing Ebanks to continue to work the market to find a higher bidder. While that’s not likely to happen, it’s a win-win for both sides to remain patient here.)

But, even with Ebanks’ anticipated return, the Lakers still find themselves wanting a wing. Devin has shown promise but is still mostly a small forward that lacks polished guard skills to be a full time back up to Kobe. Finding a player that can spell #24 for fifteen minutes a game is imperative; the Lakers simply can’t have Kobe logging heavy minutes next season as he did this past one.

Over the last several weeks, however, the wing market has started to dwindle. The better options – OJ Mayo, Courtney Lee, Brandon Rush – were all signed for more money than the Lakers could spend. Delonte West signed for a reasonable price, but stayed with the Mavs where he’s found a comfortable environment. Ronnie Brewer also signed for a reasonable price but did so with the Knicks where his defense will be needed. The market wasn’t incredibly stacked to begin with, so what remains is a list of flawed players that the Lakers are combing through to try and find a good fit at what they’re willing to spend (reportedly, only the minimum).

So, who’s left? I’m glad you asked…

  • Jodie Meeks, SG. Meeks has been linked to the Lakers in recent weeks. He’s a shooting guard only, can hit the three point shot with relative consistency, and is a respectable defender. He offers little positional versatility, but is very familiar with playing SG both as a starter and as a reserve so he could slide right into his role with the Lakers without missing a beat. He’d have value simply as a floor spacer who can play off a penetrating guard or strong post up threats.
  • C.J. Miles, SF/SG. Miles’ name has also been linked to the Lakers lately. Miles offers a good all around game and the potential for strong defense, which is where his upside may actually lie. Per My Synergy Sports, Miles’ defense in isolation and in guarding spot up shooters is on par with Ron Artest. And while I’m not putting Miles in Ron’s class on D (Ron guards the opposition’s best wing nightly and plays heavy minutes as a starter), Miles’ size and solid athleticism gives him a solid foundation on that side of the floor. His offense has been in decline for the past several years, however, and one has to wonder if he really did peak in his 3rd and 4th seasons or if his dip in numbers have come with him being asked to do more than he could handle and then, last year, with the emergence of younger players in Utah that disrupted his role.
  • Leandro Barbosa, SG/PG. Barbosa is another player the Lakers are reportedly chatting with. He’s still a very good scorer that can create his own shot in both open and half court situations. He can come off picks and shoot jumpers when working off the ball and can still handle the ball in P&R situations to get into the paint. His offense would be a nice boost to the bench. However, what he doesn’t bring is defense. Anyone that watched the Pacers play the Heat in the playoffs this past season saw Barbosa struggle on that end of the floor with his coaches often making offense/defense subs late in the game to keep him off the floor when his team needed stops.
  • Carlos Delfino, SF/SG. If you’ve been watching the Olympics, you’ve likely seen Delfino playing well for his native Argentina. He’s flashed the ability to knock down outside jumpers and has used his size well on defense. As a combo wing, Delfino could back up both SG and SF and he has enough skill with the ball to play in a two guard front or on the wing. Defensively, he’s average but, statistically at least, looks to be a better option at SG where his size lends itself better to taking away driving lanes while still being able to contest shots.
  • Mickael Pietrus, SG/SF. Pietrus remains on the market, with whispers that he’s looking for more than a minimum level contract. He could still return to Boston but the additions of Courtney Lee and Jason Terry (to go along with Avery Bradley) soak up a lot of the SG minutes, making Pietrus more of a back up SF to Paul Pierce. What he offers on the court is good defense, streaky shooting, and good competitiveness. He’s been battle tested through hard fought playoff series over the years and has shown not to be afraid of the big moment. He can play behind Kobe or next to him and, like Delfino, would provide a nice option if seeking lineup versatility.
  • The remaining list of available guys includes Michael Redd, Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas, and Matt Barnes. I’d scratch Matt off the list right away as it seems he and the Lakers are both ready to move on from their two years together. As for the other three, they all offer various skills but in older, worn down bodies that really can’t be relied on to remain healthy. They offer more wattage on the marquee than they do on the big stage and at this point in their careers are only part time contributors, not the major part of a rotation that the Lakers need.

The top three guys are all ones the Lakers are linked to, but to be honest, any of them would be a fine get. If I had to rank them in order of my preference it would look like: Meeks, Delfino/Pietrus, Miles, then Barbosa last. Meeks’ shooting, youth, and history playing for a defensive coach in Doug Collins gives him the edge for me. As for Delfino, Pietrus, and Miles, they’re all pretty similar prospects and I could live with any of that trio. They all over okay shooting, solid to good defense, and some playoff experience. Leandro simply doesn’t play enough defense for my tastes though I know his shot creation would be useful, but ultimately I’d prefer those other guys ahead of him.

Understand, however, that all of these players are flawed. There’s a reason they’re all still on the market at this stage of free agency and that they’ll all likely sign for the minimum (or a shade more). They’re not complete players by any means and will have bad nights that have fans scratching their heads. That said, the Lakers don’t need a lot from any of them. 15-20 minutes a night of solid play where they stick to their strengths and play within their roles will do just fine. And, sooner or later, the Lakers will likely have one of them in house hoping they do just that.

Darius Soriano

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63 responses to Still Searching For Perimeter Help

  1. My question to you Darius is why is Matt ready to walk away? I understand that Mike B is inconsistent with his roster but Matt has not proven himself in the playoffs. SO…..once you prove your worth, you get the time. Now that we have Nash wouldn’t Matt and his slashing fit perfectly?

  2. I never got why it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Matt Barnes is gone. Here’s a link to his exit interview:

    He seemed disappointed to have not won a ring, but did say he would like to return. He’s a guy who knows the system, has played with Nash and was content – and productive in his role. Yes, he was injured, but I don’t know that we should hold it against him.

  3. If Meeks and Miles both sign for the minimum then I’ll take them both and wish Matt all the best. Miles and Matt represent the same statistics to me. Matt just has alot more fire than Miles and is a better defender (eye test only). Utah players are taught to foul and put players on the line if they get beaten. Matt just has a habit of fouling period.

  4. The one that stands out the most to me is C.J. Miles. He kills us every time we’ve played against him. He’s very competitive and I like that!

  5. Also, while Mayo, Rush and Lee all signed for more than we could “afford” – each of those deals was doable.

    Boston wasn’t able to afford Lee either, but essentially convinced Houston to do a S/T. We had better assets. I think the FO let those opportunities slip away. Rush was the only player we reached out to.

    In fairness, though, this has been a wacky off-season, and some of it may have to do with Dwight watch.

  6. What about (Mc)Bob?

    With Jamison and Hill, the chances of him seeing minutes (barring numerous injuries) are slim.

    He has an expiring contract, yet is a productive player.

    Something has gotta give

  7. Isn’t Barbosa-Nash akin to LeBron-West? Or was it JRich-Nash? I’m sure it was one of the two.

  8. All those names could get 1 year deals. I’m not convinced Ebanks can come in and produce solid backup defense with limited range. If the FO can convince Delfino and Barbosa to come in at the vet minimum those two would be great.

  9. I still think that Lee should have been had. We knew Houston was dealing and we should have gone after him if not for defense alone. He was well worth 4 year $21.5 million. He would have been a solid back-up SG.

  10. Not sure why Ebanks hasn’t signed his QO after Morris signed his. Is Ebanks’ agent out looking for better offers? Can a team offer Ebanks a contract after Lakers extended an offer? Head scratching situations with Green and Ebanks.

  11. Matt Barnes is the Kwame Brown of SFs… Great feet but no hands. Plus he is an energy guy who loses value in the playoffs simce he isnt a dominant athlete who can out work guys in the post season.

    With Eyenga and Ebanks the Lakers biggest need is back up PG if Morris isn’t as good as I think he is. The team absolutely cannot go into another season with Steve Blake (the worst PG in the NBA) as the primary back up.

  12. I would be surprised if Delfino could be had for the minimum. He’s a bit injury prone, but I would take his all around skills over a one dimensional player like Meeks every time. If the Lakers plan on implementing the Princeton offense, Delfino’s passing and ability to finish at the rim would be a nice fit. My ranking would be Delfino, Miles/Pietris, Barbosa, Meeks, although I would be content with any of them.

  13. Barbosa and Delfino would also be my choice, tho’ I doubt if they’d go with V.M. or part of the M. L. exception. So far, C. J. Miles voiced the interest to don purple and gold, perhaps a little push in the negotiation, Meeks would also join the team. It is a reasonable goal with little money to spare.

    I don’t think Mitch could decide at this time without knowing what compose the other riders on the Howard trade if there is such credence to that trade in the first place.

  14. Aaron, I thought you thought Fish was the worst PG in the league…???

  15. The KamBros have some perspective on Messrs, Meeks and Miles, over at ESPNLA:

    One thing about the backup SG. Do we need that person to be a great shooter?

    If the role is to strictly spell Kobe for 10-15 min a game, I’d say no. If only because, the backup is going to play with the bench, which as things stand currently is:

    Eyenga/Ebanks (assuming he signs)

    I’d say, based on that line-up, we need a scorer/distributor. Blake isn’t creating for anyone, and is more of a spot-up shooter at this point. Someone who can get his own shot off, and as such force the defense to scramble will prolly be more effective. Just as important is the ability to defend the Terry’s, Hardens and other 6th men.

    If the role is to play with the first unit, then shooting becomes the most important skill.

    As an aside, did you know Ebanks did not make a single 3 pointer during the entire 2011-12 season? Yikes!

  16. the other Stephen August 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    chris h, is there any chance that you’re chris hines from silverscreenandroll? it never occurred to me before.

  17. energy guy who loses value in the playoffs simce he isnt a dominant athlete who can out work guys in the post season.


    As I pointed out the last time you said this, using PER as a thumbnail stat and citing some other numbers, this assertion is very questionable. Barnes’ playoff numbers have been very bad here, but the other two times he has been in the postseason, he has done fine, so it seems quite possible this is due to the injuries, rather than to his being an “energy guy.”

  18. Aaron–Morris isn’t as good as you think he is–at least not yet. Still no J, and still too much rock pounding.

  19. I think Aaron and rr need to hug it out…..

  20. Meeks at the minimum is a steal if you look at his advanced stats (not to mention he adds shooting which lakers desperately need)! What does Miles bring to the team that eyenga/ebanks don’t already other than a bit more experience?

  21. What about Martell Webster? Still a young player who seems attainable for the vet’s minimum. His 3 point shooting has dropped over the years and he is injury prone. However, he has good size, and can be an average defender if he puts his mind to it.

  22. My guess is that the Lakers have offered the min(1.2-1.4) to a couple guys but so far, no takers,thinking they can get more elsewhere. Like Delfino for many reasons,but doubt he will take less to be a Laker. Might be stuck with the existing roster.

  23. Chris J,
    Fisher would be the worst PG in the league if he was still in the league (as of now he is not) and of he was still pkaying PG (something he hasn’t done since being traded by the Lakers)

  24. #23. Not sure what you’d call FG%, 3pt FG%, TS%, and EFG% all going down over the last 4 seasons, but I’d call that a decline in offense for Miles.

  25. I’d say it’s between Miles and Meeks. Delfino is interesting but I have a feeling he’s looking for money rather than a ring, will not fit well.

  26. Beat-down alert!

    Team USA has 49 points at the end of the first *quarter*. Kobe perfect from the field – fourteen points already.

  27. What I don’t like about Meeks is that he was completely guardable in the playoffs. Miami pushed up on him and took away his three point shot. His inability to put the the ball on the floor made him a non-factor against the Heat.

  28. Delfino is the best player in the group that Darius mentioned, IMO. He and Miles offer real versatility and size at 2 positions. Either would be a great get.

  29. Kobe looked great today as did all of Team USA. Carmelo is hot like fire!! And the Unibrow (Anthony Davis) looks like the real deal.

  30. Why the heck is Harden jacking up 3 pointers 12 seconds into the shot clock when we are up 80 points ? Punk move!
    This after the Tunisian coach lauded us for not running up the score in the previous game.

  31. I would go with Meeks. He is young and of the names mentioned I think he is the only one that still has some upside.

  32. i will take a combo guard with a dreaded sniper outlook to take the minutes fom Kobe..anyone from the list…but here is a question..why is it that anybody that link to the Lakers has no takers to the minumum that they offer?

  33. Don’t understand why no one has snapped up Josh Childress–unless he’s just picking his spot; Phoenix pays all but the minimum of his tab, wherever he goes. He is hands down the best player available, and has been since he was amnestied. Best of all, he doesn’t need the ball to be effective; he’s at least as good as Barnes, younger, and a better shooter. His per-minute production in Atlanta was All-Star level. If we can get him, he’s the guy.

  34. #35 – may be a good addition to the bench

  35. Teams under the cap bid first. Unlikely Childress will still be around after that process.

  36. Like L Barbosa. Princeton won’t help us with Drew (and wil devalue Nash). Drew is not top 30 in assists per minute for centers and not top 50 in asst/TO. Wish we could trade Drew for Marc Gasol and Tony Allen. Does saying that violate guidelines here?

  37. @35 – Not sure he’s the right fit but would be cool to have that afro on the roster.

    Besides, it’s clear to me the best all-around player from the list is CJ MIles. I just think Meeks is a better fit because of the 3-point %

  38. DY: Martell Webster is the Javale McGee of guards lol. No Thanks.

    Smart money is on Meeks the Miles rumor seemed to be just that Mitch said “we’ll only use the mini mid level if it’s great value” and CJ Miles isn’t great value for that price. It may be smart to gamble and wait it out til the Olympics are over. Barbosa and Delfino options should be slim by then one may take the vet minimum.

    Kobe sure did put on a show to begin the game today. Vintage tough 3s, nice hockey assist, 2 good post moves and a dunk. He’s been pacing himself.

  39. Childress was amnestied on July 15th and the waiver process is only a couple of days long. He must have cleared waivers because I haven’t heard that anyone won his rights. It’s odd that there’s been no talk of where he might end up signing as a free agent though.

  40. i’d rather give kenyon martin the entire mini-mid to back-up gasol and give us another shotblocker and a +defender.

    he can bother 3s and guard 4s and 5s.

  41. OT:

    Anyone who knows where can I watch Basketball Olympics?

    Any Links?

  42. rr: This is for you:

    From Darius’ post:

    “The remaining list of available guys includes Michael Redd, Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas, and Matt Barnes”

    If you look up “problem children” and “vagabonds” in webster’s dictionary, you might find these names : )

  43. “Still searching for perimeter help”:

    That is not all we are searching for.

    Stay focused !!!!

  44. I think Aaron and rr need to hug it out…..

    I actually think more highly of Aaron than many here seem to, but opinions, assertions, and facts are three different things.


    And if you look up “good basketball player” you won’t find pictures of Shannon Brown and Derek Fisher.
    Also, with Nash here, decisions at the margins mean even more than they did last year.

    My concern about Meeks is defense, but in truth, I have not seen any of these guys play enough to have a firm opinion of whom the FO should target. The fact that guys like this are out there shows us:

    a) How the CBA will affect the NBA’s lower-middle class
    b) How unnecessary it was to give Steve Blake 4/16.

  45. vhanz, you can find full game replays on nbc’s site

    for anything in progress i’d check

  46. Nash in playoffs w/ 10+ games 41% from 3 and 9.7 assists.

    In 05 playoffs Nash avg. 23.9 pts 4.8 reb 11.3 ast 52/38/91. That’s Magicesque.

  47. Kobe shot 42% from 3-9 ft down from 48% in 2011. Shot 42% from 10-15 ft down from 51% in 2011.

    Whether it’s touch from the mangled fingers or not enough space to get a good shot off. The Princeton offense and Nash should help boost those numbers back up to the high 40s making Kobe more efficient shooting.

    Similar to Pau shot 43% and 43% from those same areas. Hopefully Nash and the new offense can make those shots for both easier.

  48. No “great value” in that list. Help has to come either from a mega-blockbuster deal, or from internal improvements (Ebanks/Eyenga/Morris). Neither is likely, so I’m not terribly optimistic about this squad’s chances.

  49. @46 rr – I also have concerns about Meeks D…Yeah, he’s not that good on D…Is he ok? Is “ok on D” acceptable for us (if he hits a bunch of 3s)?

    All players from the list have their pros and cons…Meeks can be boxed out if facing the right defense, but CJ MIles (the best all-around skills from the list) might not be the fit for the Lakers.

    So let’s pick our poison.

  50. Meeks is the only choice. We don’t need another SF, we need a back-up to both Kobe and Nash. Meeks would back up Kobe, is there anyone better than Blake still available? Where is Jordan Farmar when you need him?!

  51. Darius: “The Lakers’ roster, for all intents and purposes, is nearly set.”

    Not for me. I see the Lakers deliberately procrastinating until the Dwightmare is over.

    Assuming the Drewscape, I see fewer uses of Pau and Drew together–more Drew with Hill, and more Pau with McRoberts or Hill. On the perimeter, I see a three PG rotation (at least), with Darius in the lead for number 3 (or even 2). I see the backup for Kobe by committee (to be determined)–but that could change.

    I’d like to see the Lakers form an “energy bunch” of younger players to go PnR uptempo–a change of pace from the Princeton. I’d also like to see additional defensive specialists beyond MWP.

    I’d like to see Nash and the other starters from last year playing far fewer minutes, requiring more players in the rotation–as many as 10, or even 12. We should get a peek at some of the possibilities by preseason.

    Of the players being considered in this thread, I’d lean to CJ Miles for his defense, age, and experience–and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see his perimeter shooting % go back to his glory seasons of a few years ago–when Deron ran the show.

    Of all the “shooters” not talked about, the most intriguing would be Juan Carlos Navarro becoming available and joining his best friend, Pau Gasol. Navarro earned about $3 million in Euroleague play last year.

    Of course, there are still ways that Dwight might appear with JRich–and we begin talking about plan B. . . .

  52. @clover #38 Finally, someone thinks of the same that Marc Gasol would be a better fit for Pau than Andrew Bynum. Dont know if that trade is possible but who knows Kwame was traded for Pau!

  53. How is Marc Gasol a better fit with Pau, other than having his brother on the team? LA would give teams a hall pass to the lane with those two protecting the paint. Offensively they might look smoother because Marc is a better jump shooter than Bynum, but defense wins championships and that is where Bynum wins hands down.

  54. Brandon Rush wants to be a starer. That would not happen here because we have a kind of good SG starting right now. Maybe it’s a good thing we didn’t get him.

    Per ESPN Rumors:

    By drafting a polished college small forward like Harrison Barnes and trading Dorell Wright, the assumption for many is that Barnes will be the Warriors’ starting small forward next season.

    Newly signed Brandon Rush isn’t ready to concede the starting spot, however.

    “I’m coming in trying to get that starting job at the three spot,” Rush told “I’ve been working hard the whole, entire summer to build up on that.”

    Here’s our take: for Rush to start, Barnes will probably have to struggle early as a rookie. For one, Barnes just brings too much size and upside to the three. On top of that, Rush was simply dynamite off the bench in 2011-12, his first season with the Warriors, connecting on 45 percent of his 3-point attempts. He started just one game last season.

  55. Tweets that CJ Miles is about to sign with Cavs. perhaps, he got what he wanted after declaring that he’s interested with the Lakers.

    Michael Redd is still looking for a team. He’s a good shooter but another geriatric, will he agree with mini mle?

    A bird on hand is better than two in a bush as the saying goes, so better sign Meeks before he’s gone. Waiting for dwightmare would only result to a Laker drought in improving the bench.

  56. NC Don,

    Individually, Bynum is clearly better than Mark Gasol, but for the team, there are plenty of arguments that Mark would be a better fit.

    On offense, Mark’s biggest advantage over Bynum is his basketball IQ. He is an excellent passer with a decent 10 to 12 footer, and would do a better job of opening up the post for Gasol, Kobe and even Artest. Vlade Divac’s passing ability was a major weapon in the Kings’ Princeton offense, and I could see Mark playing a similar role with this team. He wouldn’t post the same numbers that Bynum does, but he would add chemistry, and help his teammates play to their strengths.

    On defense, the Lakers gave up almost 10 points more per 48 minutes WITH Bynum on the floor than without in the playoffs. Bynum is the superior defensive player, but come playoff time, the strategy against the Lakers is to run, run and run, as well as taking advantage of Bynum’s poor P&R defense. Mark’s P&R defense is better than Bynum’s IMO, and although Mark is slow footed, he always hustles back in transition. Believe it or not, Bynum’s defense was more of a liability than a strength during these playoffs.

    I’m not suggesting that I would trade Bynum for Mark, because Bynum is simply worth more in the trade market, but I do believe Mark would be a better fit for this team.

  57. I have a question. Who is the ideal center to pair up with Pau? There are a lot of differing opinions on what Pau’s strength is. There are certain camps who believe Pau needs to be in the low post more often to be most efficient on offense, but at the same time isn’t powerful enough to be a defensive rebounding force.

    The theory from many who question Bynum as the right “fit” alongside Pau cite that he takes too much off the table offensively (by taking post opportunities away from a more polished post passer) and not bringing enough to the table defensively (or at least consistently). Would Marc Gasol really solve that problem? Is DH really that much better of a fit than Bynum? I am of the belief that in order for this team to reach another title, the most important thing is getting Pau in a position to be more successful. He is a champion at heart and rises to the occasion when he has the space to do so (Game 7 2010 comes to mind)

  58. The best fit alongside Pau is Howard.

  59. Dwight is the better fit for Pau (not necessarily the Lakers) because Dwight’s isn’t a one on one post player like Bynum is.

  60. Of course the Lakers aren’t going to do what’s best for Pau since he is now their fourth best player.

  61. I didn’t mean to say they should make Pau a priority, but if the lakers find the right chemistry/balance then Pau should be able to put up numbers in the playoffs like he has in the past.

    Hopefully bringing in Nash and
    modifying the offense helps him get his groove back, but I think the point in my thinking is questioning whether DH or any other trade possibility is really the optimal fit alognside Pau.

  62. I’ll say one thing, Nash+Dwight would likely be Nash/Amare x10.

    LT Mitchell explained that Marc Gasol would play a similar role on a Princeton-offense-run team as did Divac with the Kings, but I think that may also ring true for Pau Gasol. I’d like to see MB try to run something through Pau; the Princeton offense and the addition of Steve Nash could be what gets Gasol back in rhythm and involved in the offense.

  63. These days Pau is more comfortable playing near the rim. For that reason I don’t see Howard, Bynum, or Marc being “good” fits with him. All of the aforementioned players are centers.

    The best fit for Pau Gasol is an athletic power forward.