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Lakers sign veteran center Theo Ratliff; Is Matt Barnes next?

July 22, 2010 |  4:50 pm

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.

Ratliff didn't do much with San Antonio most of last season, averaging 1.6 points and 1.9 rebounds in 21 games, though he posted better numbers after being traded to Charlotte, where he started 26 of 28 games and averaged 5.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots in 22.3 minutes a game. Defense has always been Ratliff's speciality: He has averaged 2.4 blocked shots per game in his career and led the league three times in the category.

The Lakers now have 10 players under contract next season and will find out Friday if Matt Barnes will be No. 11. The free-agent forward could sign for $1.77 million next season, the most the Lakers could offer any free agent after spending $4 million of next season's $5.77-million mid-level exception on guard Steve Blake.

Barnes has been offered between $3 million and $4 million next season by Cleveland, but the Lakers are appealing because they are two-time defending champions.

 

“If he decides to play there [in Los Angeles], it’s his desire to play there,” Barnes’ agent, Aaron Goodwin, said Thursday in a phone interview. “He has a relationship with Kobe and he’ll make a decision in the next 24 hours.”

 

Barnes has averaged 7.3 points a game in his seven-year career and is a 32.9% shooter from three-point range. He has been with seven teams since leaving UCLA after his senior year in 2002.

 

Earlier this week, Barnes appeared to be headed to Toronto for two years and $9 million as part of a sign-and-trade transaction, but the deal fell through. He averaged 8.8 points and 25.9 minutes a game last season for Orlando.

--Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner


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