Free agent profile: Tayshaun Prince
This is the 30th post in a series of free-agent profiles that analyzes particular players and how they might fit in with the Lakers.
Player: Detroit Pistons small forward Tayshaun Prince
Type of free agent: Unrestricted
Positives: He brings championship experience, being a part of the Pistons' 2004 NBA championship team that broke up a Lakers dynasty. A a nine-year veteran, Prince's 14.1 points per game on 47.3% shooting last season pretty much mirrors his career totals (12.9 points on 46.4% shooting). And his services as a dependable wing defender would surely be an upgrade for the Lakers.
Negatives: The most immediate concern involves how Prince would handle playing for John Kuester again. Kuester was fired after compiling a 57-107 record through two seasons, a tenure that entailed plenty of instances in which players had issues with him. One of those players was Prince, who had a heated exchange with Kuester last season after Prince didn't fight through a double screen in a regular season game. Prince also questioned Kuester's coaching when the team started 0-4. With Kuester now an assistant coach with the Lakers, it's only natural to wonder if they'd be able to patch things up.
Another concern points to how he'd do as a reserve. He may seek an option where he could command a starter's role, something that isn't realistic with the Lakers. He may accept coming off the bench, but it remains to be seen if he'd be as productive.
Verdict: The Detroit Pistons are interested in re-signing Prince, and agent Bill Duffy told the Detroit Free Press' Perry A. Ferrell that Prince wouldn't mind returning. Still, Detroit is in the process of rebuilding and may ultimately need to let him go. Prince also plans to test the market. Of course, his future hinges on the new collective-bargaining agreement because Prince could command a good deal, given that his talent in defending the wing is a service many teams covet.
That includes the Lakers, who experienced some inconsistency with Ron Artest and Matt Barnes. I expect Barnes to improve next season, since most of his problems hinged on him not knowing how to play through his surgically repaired right knee. As talented as Artest remains on defense, his skills are going to continue to decline as his athleticism and quickness wanes. Because Kuester is on the team under a winning environment, I believe any issues that stemmed from last season can be sorted out. All in all, acquiring Prince would be a solid pickup for the Lakers, and worth the investment.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Detroit Pistons small forward Tayshaun Prince. Credit: Duane Burleson / Associated Press