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Top four free agents Lakers should pursue

November 29, 2011 |  2:04 pm

Jerry Buss/Jim Buss

Finally, we can talk about money and contract lengths without feeling further agitated about the NBA's labor dispute.

With both sides agreeing to the overall framework of a new collective bargaining agreement, we can now apply those economic terms to free agency, slated to coincide with training camp beginning Dec. 9. The CBA affects how teams will approach free agency, but there's something more tantalizing about discussing this issue than over the previous fight between millionaires and billionaires. I put together an extensive list this off-season of free agent profiles. But below are the four free agents who both fill the Lakers' needs and appear to be feasible in acquisitions.

1. Jason Richardson: Orlando Magic shooting guard. Even if he lacks quickness, ball handling skills or lateral movement on defense, Richardson remains lights out from three-point range. The Lakers' poor outside shooting last season (35.7%) ranks among one of the highest needs to address in the 2011-2012 season. Considering Richardson's willingness to play for a championship team regardless of the money, the Lakers should have a decent shot at landing him with an inexpensive price tag. 

2. Shane Battier, Memphis Grizzlies small forward. Should the Lakers waive Metta World Peace via the amnesty clause, it's crucial the Lakers replace him with someone of similar defensive caliber. Battier has earned a strong reputation over the years in remaining a defensive force because of his tenacity and high basketball IQ. Aside from his age (32) and lack of athleticism and offensive skills, Battier would provide the needed intangibles to keep the Lakers' defense strong. 

3. James Jones, Miami Heat small forward. The Lakers need to clamor aggressively for Jones' services, considering ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported it's unlikely Miami will retain Mike Miller. Jones' 40.2% mark from three-point range would provide another option for the Lakers to address their outside shooting if they don't sign Richardson. Because Jones offers very little else beyond his shooting, the Lakers can sign Jones cheaply.

4. Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat point guard. OK, so this doesn't exactly upgrade the Lakers' point guard position significantly. But with the Lakers wanting to save for Chris Paul or Deron Williams for next year's free agency and the lack of talented point guards in this year's free agency class, this is the most realistic choice. Even if Chalmers makes boneheaded decisions, he's capable of hitting big shots in big games. 

RELATED:

List of free agent profiles 

Five challenges the Lakers face with a compressed schedule

Vegas oddmakers keep Miami Heat as 2012 NBA title favorite

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers owner Jerry Buss and team vice president Jim Buss. Credit: Los Angeles Times


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