Free-agent profile: Aaron Gray
This is the 25th post in a series of free-agent profiles that analyzes particular players and how they might fit in with the Lakers.
New Orleans Hornets center Aaron Gray
Type of free agent: Unrestricted
Positives: The Lakers only have to look back at their first-round series against New Orleans to know why he'd help. As a backup center, Gray scored a season-high 12 points in the Hornets' 109-100 Game 1 victory over the Lakers and played a role in Pau Gasol putting up a listless effort. Even after spraining his ankle late in Game 1, Gray returned in Game 2 and provided a quick four rebounds and two points in the first quarter in the wake of Emeka Okafor's early foul trouble. Remember, the criteria in measuring Gray's worth to the Lakers fall into how he'd do as a backup to Andrew Bynum.
Under that standard, Gray could provide a solid 10 minutes of relief, thanks to his size (7 feet, 270 pounds), dependable rebounding skills (4.2 per game last season in 13 minutes) and solid defense when he remains close to the basket and bruises with other post players.
Negatives: Gray's defense on pick-and-rolls would only worsen the Lakers' already subpar effort on defending the P&R. Gray's poor conditioning only slows down an already slow-paced team. His lack of movement in the post also makes him a limited option.
Verdict: Gray opted out of his $1.06-million contract with the Hornets, so it's a safe bet that he won't stay with the Hornets. It's plausible the Lakers could get him at a cheap offer, and for the specific role Gray would be asked to provide, he'd be a good fit.
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Photo: New Orleans center Aaron Gray fouls Lakers forward Lamar Odom during Game 1 of the 2011 playoffs. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times