Free agent profile: Shane Battier
This is the second in a series of profiles analyzing a free agent and how he might fit in with the Lakers.
Shane Battier, Memphis Grizzlies forward
Type of free agent: Unrestricted
They don't call him the "No Stats All-Star" for nothing. He consistently guards the opposing team's best player and holds them under their season averages in points and shooting percentage. He provides a positive locker-room presence and thrives on mastering such intangibles as tipping loose balls to teammates, boxing out an opponent to free up a teammate to clean glass and showing remarkable efficiency in his shot selection.
Battier has plenty of veteran experience and would earn immediate respect from many Lakers, including Kobe Bryant (who knows how suffocating Battier can be on defense), Ron Artest (who used to be his teammate at Houston) and Pau Gasol (who used to be his teammate in Memphis). There's no need to wonder how Battier would fit in the pecking order because he'd be the guy making everyone else's job easier. With Coach Mike Brown wanting to implement a defense-first mentality, Battier would be a perfect addition in fulfilling that philosophy.
Battier's age (32), lack of athleticism and offensive moves don't exactly bode well for a team that wants an injection of youth and quickness. One sign this might be an issue points to his initial struggles with the Memphis Grizzlies this past season after the Houston Rockets traded him. Battier received less playing time and didn't have the same offensive comfort as he did with the Rockets. He wouldn't be expected to be part of the Lakers' offensive scheme -- which would be reserved primarily for Bryant, Gasol and Andrew Bynum. But it still could make him a less effective option. Battier has routinely made up for this deficiency with his high basketball IQ, so it's not as if this signing would be a disaster. The Lakers may just have better options in bolstering their roster.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal's Ronald Tillery reported after the Grizzlies' Game 7 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals that Battier expressed uncertainty about his future because of the strong possibility of an NBA lockout.
Battier has sentimental ties to Memphis considering he was drafted by them sixth overall in 2001, played for the Grizzlies in two separate stints (2001-06, 2011) and runs his basketball camp there. Still, it'd be wise for the Lakers to go after him. Consider how Battier's quote about his playing future perfectly ties into the Lakers hopes to make "tweaks" to their roster without spending too much money.
"I don't have to start and play 40 minutes," Battier told Tillery. "I just want to have a role and be one of the guys a coach can lean on."
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Thunder forward Kevin Durant drives past Grizzlies forward Shane Battier during the first half of Game 7 of the Thunder-Grizzlies Western Conference semifinals series. Credit: Larry W. Smith / EPA / May 15, 2011