Free agent profile: Earl Watson
This is the 27th post in a series of free-agent profiles that analyzes particular players and how they might fit in with the Lakers.
Utah Jazz point guard Earl Watson
Type of free agent: Unrestricted
Positives: Lakers Coach Mike Brown has often touted how he'll hold players accountable next season, particularly on defense. Whether or not you believe Brown will actually be able to do that with a veteran-laden team, there's a real practical concern on how much Kobe Bryant actually plays. He's normally played the center-field position in hopes that it preserves his legs, but he won't have that luxury if he doesn't have another shooting guard to fill that spot. That's where Watson fits in, whose main strength in his 10-year NBA career points to his defensive tenacity.
Universally, the main concern during this offseason reflects how they're going to address their point guard spot. But having Watson's consistent defense could at least offset that problem in areas including defending speedy point guards and closing out on outside shooters. Because Bryant's fatigue levels and health will continue to be an ongoing concern, Watson's presence could eat into Bryant's minutes when the team needs to make a defensive stop and preserve Bryant's overall energy since he won't have to worried as much on playing defense.
Negatives: Watson doesn't bring much other than his defense. His career 41.6% mark from the field is similar to the 40% clip he provided last season with the Jazz where he averaged 4.3 points and 3.5 assists last season in 80 games, including 13 starts. His 33.6% mark from three-point range and 20% clip on shots within 10-15 feet hardly helps the Lakers already poor outside shooting. Watson's inconsistent ball handling and questionable decision making makes him pretty turnover prone. With his age (32), the Lakers would be acquiring a player that wouldn't have much of a long-term future with the team.
Verdict: Even though Watson has expressed interest in resigning with the Jazz, he's been an NBA journeymen of sorts and have thrived on short-term and inexpensive deals. Because of the Lakers' limited finances, he'd be a good option should they be desperate in finding someone and it probably wouldn't be hard to entice with Watson since he's drawn to winning teams and the former UCLA product would return back to where he played college basketball. The Lakers' main concern involves outside shooting, so they should look for options to bolster that first.
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