Free-agent profile: Chuck Hayes
This is the 48th post in a series of free-agent profiles that analyzes players and how they might fit in with the Lakers.
Houston Rockets power forward Chuck Hayes
Type of free agent: Unrestricted
Positives: He epitomizes the grit, effort and pride on the little things that Mike Brown will need to maximize his defensive philosophy. Because the Rockets lacked other options, Hayes played in an unnatural position at center. Because Andrew Bynum is the established starter, Hayes would be better-suited playing at his natural power forward spot to back up Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom.
Hayes has long been considered only a defensive presence, but his career-high 7.9 points on 52.7% shooting last season shows his increased comfort level in translating his efficiency into scoring opportunities. His numbers would probably dip with the Lakers because of a decreased role, but he'd be capable of complementing the Lakers' offensive and defensive efforts.
Negatives: Hayes showed in his time with Houston that his 6-6, 238-pound frame won't inhibit him from playing center effectively, but the Lakers are better-suited in finding a true backup center. Should Bynum suffer an injury, Gasol will obviously slide over to that starting spot, while Odom assumes the starting power forward spot. But it would be much easier to give Gasol rest without compromising the Lakers' size advantage if a bigger reserve is there to back him up.
Verdict: The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen reported Hayes wants to return to the Rockets but noted that they're looking to bolster the team's size at the center position. Some reports also suggested Minnesota Coach and former Rockets coach Rick Adelman would look to add Hayes to the Timberwolves' roster because of his presence. But the Lakers should definitely pursue him. The only issue pertains to how much it will cost the Lakers, because it's conceivable Hayes is out of their price range.
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Photo: Kobe Bryant and Rockets' Chuck Hayes reach for a loose ball. Credit: David J. Phillip / AP / December 12, 2006