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Jeremy Lin would help Lakers even if it complicates their backcourt

July 20, 2010 |  5:34 pm

It only took a strong showing in the Las Vegas Summer League to create enough buzz to get Lakers fans excited. But that's what happens when Jeremy Lin of the Dallas Mavericks held his own against No. 1 draft pick John Wall, the Lakers need to bolster their backcourt and, well, fans don't know what to do with themselves other than talk basketball during the off-season.

But, as reported by ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin, the talk surrounding Lin, an undrafted guard from Harvard, isn't just a pipe dream. The Lakers' interest in Lin is real as the two parties continue to be in negotiations. It remains unclear whether this will happen, if Lin is just picked up for training camp or if he's only given a training-camp contract.

If Lin were to join the team, however, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound guard would bolster the backcourt even if it'd complicate the rotation. That's because the Lakers would carry six guards and affect the roles of Shannon Brown and Sasha Vujacic. If Lin joined the team, the chances that Brown would come back would be fairly slim. But it would also eat into Vujacic's playing time, which I think will actually prove valuable considering he's entering a contract year.

With Lin's Draft Express Profile suggesting thathe has a mastery of the game, strong playmaking abilities and good judgment, his presence would significantly bolster the Lakers' backcourt because he'd serve as a youthful option to a unit that is aging. But with the same profile mentioning Lin could improve his athleticism and Summer League results need to be viewed skeptically, the Lakers are going to need to make some concessions. Are they confident Brown can mold into more than a dunker? Or do they think Brown just doesn't have the skill-set to play consistently? Are they confident Lin's dazzling performances will translate to success with the Lakers? Or do they think he still needs some experience before they consider taking him?

I mentioned last week why the Lakers should re-sign Brown, and despite Lin's play during Summer Leauge, I stick to that position. Still, if the Lakers opt for Lin, the acquisition would shelp the Lakers reach their goal of improving their backcourt. Lin also carries a background that the Lakers would embrace given their media market and international presence. Lin, who's Taiwanese, would become the first American born Asian to play in the NBA since Rex Walters and Wat Misaka. The Lakers already boast plenty of international flavor with Pau Gasol (Spain), Vujacic (Slovenia) and D.J. Mbenga (Democratic Republic of Congo), though it's unclear the Lakers are going to keep Mbenga. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has made plenty of trips to Asia, sharing basketball know-how with kids while promoting his shoe as well as for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and has developed a strong appreciation for Asian culture. In that respect, Lin would be immediately embraced.

Surely, Lin would go through some challenges, but his background has shown he's managed to overcome those. After winning a state championship at Palo Alto High, he couldn't even get a Division I scholarship. Yet, he excelled at Harvard and made the All-Ivy League first team twice. Lin went undrafted, but still managed to create buzz off his Summer League performances. We'll find out soon enough what choice the Lakers wind up making, whether they pick up the hot prospect or stick with Brown. Even if Lin doesn't show up in El Segundo next season, he can be comforted in knowing he's at least done something right. And that is giving the Lakers and their fans something to talk about during the dog days of the off-season.

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com


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