Archives For Free Agents

At first, we had this tweet from Daniel Buerge of Lakers Nation.

And then it was confirmed by Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles.

We all remember Jordan Farmar. He came into the league in 2006 with the Lakers as a late first-round pick. Farmar was a superb player off the bench in that surprising 2007-08 Laker team, averaging 9.1 points. He was also part of the Laker teams in 2009 and 2010 that won back-to-back championships. We also remember Farmar wanting to start for the Lakers but he was never able to get the position away from Derek Fisher.

Farmar would spend 2011 and 2012 with the old New Jersey Nets backing up Deron Williams. He played in Turkey last season.

With Farmar’s speed and fearlessness to drive into the hole, he seems perfect for the D’Antoni offense. Except he’s actually kind of a mismatch with the roster since it looks like the Lakers will play one side of the ball in slow-motion. Also, the Lakers need wing players; Farmar is certainly too short to play off the ball. With Steve Nash and Steve Blake on the roster, L.A. suddenly has a logjam in the point guard position.

I’m personally a big Farmar fan and I’m glad that he’s back in the league. While we’re still only in early July, what direction are the Lakers going? They get a third point guard, a speedy one at that, to go with the rest of the turtles on the roster? Huh?

The curious offseason of the Lakers continue.

Well, it seems that the Los Angeles Lakers finally signed a free agent. This had been talked about for a bit.

Per Marc Stein of ESPN…

 

And per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN L.A.

 

Mr. Kaman himself made it official.

Since the Lakers are all capped out, the mini-midlevel was the most the Lakers could offer ($3 million).

You may remember Kaman from his long tenure with the Los Angeles Clippers, where he spent eight years. You may also remember Kaman making the all-star team in the 2009-10 season when he averaged 18.5 points amd 9.3 rebounds per game. After the Clippers, he spent 2011-12 with the New Orleans Hornets and last year with the Dallas Mavericks.

Since the deal is only for one year, this won’t affect the Lakers’ cap space for the 2014 offseason. As far as Kaman’s fit with the Lakers? While Dwight Howard left, a big isn’t exactly a huge need for the lakers with Pau Gasol there. Kaman has a good offensive game around the post and a decent jumper. Here’s his shot distribution from last season.

Shotchart 1373314872218

If D’Antoni intends to start Kaman, I’ll be curious to see how he meshes Pau and Kaman together since both of them can play the post. But if Kaman is signed to back up Pau, which is what I hope he was signed for? That would actually be quite the steal. While the Lakers are getting the leftovers in the free agency bin, Kaman at the mini-midlevel is a very good signing. He still has plenty left in the tank and while Kaman isn’t the strongest defensively, he can still block a shot or two (averages 1.4 blocks his career).

Now let’s see who else the Lakers can get on board in what seems to be a transition year. Need a little wing help, guys.

*Data from NBA.Com stats

The Lakers did not retain their main free agent target. And while that’s disappointing on a variety of levels and is a major step backwards in building a contending team, it doesn’t mean the Lakers can (or will) just sit on their hands for the rest of free agency. After all, as it stands now, the Lakers only have 8 players on their roster (not counting recent draftee Ryan Kelly) and need to fill out their roster with bodies — preferably some who can, you know, actually play basketball.

In other words, the team still has work to do.

If there’s one thing we know for certain it is that the team is looking to add players who fill dual needs while also fitting into Mike D’Antoni’s approach to the game. What this boils down to is finding players who are comfortable on the perimeter, players who can shoot and/or defend ably enough to earn minutes in diverse lineups. Most of these players will be classic wings — either small forwards or shooting guards — but don’t rule out signing another perimeter oriented big man or a point guard, both positions that can allow some roster lineup flexibility and versatility.

Knowing these things, here are 5 names that make some sense.

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Dwight Howard chose the Rockets.

Typing that is frustrating. It induces anxiousness. But it is also not surprising.

Granted, I did not think it would go this way. There were a lot of reasons why I believed what I did, but ultimately those don’t matter much right now. His decision is made and while it would be easy to try and find some sort of fault in his logic or try to defame his character for the choice he made, I will not do either. He made a choice that he thought was best for him and his career. Whether or not his decision will be validated with the reaching of his goals is something that only time will reveal, but he should know that the expectations that would have towered over him in Los Angeles to win at the highest level will follow him to Houston. Such is the reality of being one of the elite players in the sport.

But this is no longer about Dwight Howard. The focus shifts, now, to the Lakers and what this means for them and what they will do in response to losing a player of his magnitude.

In GM Mitch Kupchak’s statement, he noted that the Lakers “will now move forward in a different direction with the future of the franchise and, as always, will do our best to build the best team possible, one our great lakers fans will be proud to support.” What that looks like remains to be seen and how they go about achieving that is an open question that will take time to develop and patience to enact. There will be ups and downs in this process and it’s a guarantee that it won’t go smoothly at every interval.

There will also be disagreement with whatever approach is taken. There will be advocates for any and all strategies that have potential to get the team back to the top. There really aren’t any right answers in this quest. There is really only preference. This will lead to disagreements and hyperbolic statements and those thinking their way is best. But this is just noise.

The fact is, the hard path begins from a different spot than many would have hoped. The path to where the team wants to be will be one filled with questions and second guessing and a wondering if the goal is really even attainable. History tells us it will happen, but the new rules have been put in place, in part, to render history less meaningful.

I can say that I’m disappointed, but not devastated. Dwight Howard has proven to be a fantastic player in his career and those are the types of players you reach the mountain top with. The fact that he’s gone is meaningful just as it would be if he’d stayed. However, the fact is that having him guaranteed nothing. Hard work and good fortune would have been needed and without him that will still be the case.

There’s not a reasonable argument that the Lakers are better off without him in the short or immediate future. Down the line when he would have potentially been owed that extra $30 million that only the Lakers could offer (or when he opts out and wants another long term maximum extension) might have proved to be more complicated, but those are no longer issues the Lakers have to deal with. I’d be lying if I said I’d rather the Lakers didn’t have to make those hard choices, but I’d also be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that I anticipate them being hard ones. Especially if the team’s goals weren’t reached in the years leading up to having to make them.

But the Lakers are freed from that responsibility and with that comes a new set of hurdles to clear. Friday was a step back for the franchise and now they must prove they can get back on their feet and triumph once more. My guess is that they’ll be able to do it. In my lifetime, I’ve seen it too many times to doubt the final goal is somehow out of reach. I’d have liked it better if there was more certainty as the team embarks on this path, but in a way that uncertainty is what’s at the heart of sports. There are never any assurances, after all.

But, in the end, I’ll put my money on the Lakers to find a way. Even without Dwight Howard as one of the pillars.

The meetings are over. Over the span of three days, Dwight Howard and his team of decision makers sat through presentations of five teams — the Rockets, Hawks, Warriors, Mavericks, and Lakers — about why he should accept their offer of large amounts of cash and various other incentives and play for their organizations. Dwight has now retreated to Colorado for a few days to consider his options and make a decision.

There are many variables to consider when making this choice, but reports from early in this process state that Dwight’s biggest concern is winning at the highest level. He’s already been the to Finals once and would like to return several times over and, when he does, claim the trophy that eluded him in 2009. So, while media exposure (both domestic and foreign), money, and many other lifestyle factors will play a part in all this, Dwight’s decision will supposedly come down to basketball reasons.

When zooming in and focusing on what matters between the lines of that 94′ x 50′ hardwood, the consensus seems to be that the Rockets offer Dwight the best chance to accomplish his career goals. These plusses have been discussed multiple times, but the Cliff Notes version is that the Rockets have a young superstar in James Harden, a roster of good (and young) complementary pieces, a smart GM who knows how to fill out a roster, and a head coach who was once a fantastic low post player to help Dwight develop that part of his game further (while, supposedly, running an offense to highlight that part of his game). These things are mostly all true, though some of them have been embellished slightly (more on that later).

The Lakers, meanwhile, are portrayed differently. They’re seen as old and not as talented. They’re seen as a team that can’t offer Dwight the role he wants on offense, and a team that lacks the defensive players to thrive on that side of the floor. The Lakers are billed as the team selling a combination of the past (“we’re the Lakers“) and the future (cap space in just one more year!), rather than the team that can win now. There’s some truth in this but, like the Rockets’ case, these negatives have also been embellished somewhat.

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