Free agent profile: Nazr Mohammed [Video]
This is the ninth post in a series of profiles analyzing a free agent and how he might fit in with the Lakers.
Type of free agent: Unrestricted
Positives: Oklahoma City made one of the biggest trades last season before the deadline when it acquired Kendrick Perkins from the Boston Celtics, immediately adding a layer of championship experience and toughness that the youthful Thunder lacked, and immediately ending the Laker archrivals' chances of getting another NBA championship. But that deal also included the Thunder acquiring veteran Charlotte center Nazr Mohammed while trading three-point-shooting power forward Jeff Green and backup center Nenad Kristic. Mohammed has fulfilled that NBA journeyman-type role, playing for six teams since the Utah Jazz selected him with the 29th pick in the 1998 draft. But he immediately found his niche on the Thunder roster.
Mohammed averaged seven points and five rebounds on 52.2% shooting, improved the Thunder's interior defense and helped elevate the team's frontline presence in Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison. Surely, Perkins was already credited with these qualities, but Mohammed brought them immediately while Perkins continued to nurse a knee injury. Mohammed's 2005 NBA championship with the San Antonio Spurs also suggests that he'll already have familiarity with the Lakers' mindset on how to properly approach the season toward another title.
Negatives: The Lakers have been down this route before, acquiring a veteran backup center in Theo Ratliff. That proved to be of little value. In the Lakers' long-term development, it's better to acquire someone who actually has a definitive future. Mohammed has also shown that his role severely diminishes in the playoffs, including the 2006 postseason where played limited minutes in the Spurs' second-round loss against Dallas and in the 2010 playoffs where he averaged only 2.3 points on 41.2% shooting.
Verdict: Mohammed expressed in a series of tweets, as detailed by the Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry, that he wants to return to the Thunder. But as reported by Fox Sports West's Brian Smith, there's uncertainty on whether Oklahoma City feels the same way. The Thunder has wanted veterans to guide the youth-oriented team. But OKC has two centers in Cole Aldrich and Byron Mullens, both of whom could assume more minutes.
From the Lakers' end, it would be better if they found a young backup center. But because of L.A.'s strapped finances, acquiring Mohammed would be a decent pickup on a short-term basis. Obviously, the sentiment lies in going for younger talent on the frontline, especially with the Lakers' signing of Ratliff proving to be a poor move last season. But the 34-year-old Mohammad doesn't have an extended injury history and has the capability of being a reliable backup center at a pretty cheap price.
-- Mark Medina