Lakers' free agent options remain limited
This isn't one of these times. The Lakers have a $91-million payroll. The free-agent class doesn't exactly hold the same prestige as last year's group, highlighted by LeBron James' "The Decision." And the top-heavy talent among the available free agents, including Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler and Nene, are too expensive and don't exactly fit the Lakers' roster needs.
Here's the other unfortunate reality involving the Lakers: the free agents that can address their needs at a reasonable price tag won't be available either. Below are a few of them.
J.J. Barea, Dallas Mavericks guard: After running laps around the Lakers in the 2011 playoffs, he'd finally add speed to the Lakers' slow lineup. The only problem: there's no way Mavericks owner Mark Cuban doesn't re-sign Barea after playing a large part in the Mavericks' championship run.
Aaron Brooks, Phoenix Suns guard: The seven-game series of the 2009 Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets aggravated Lakers fans, partly because no one could guard the speedy Brooks. No need to wonder whether his statistical drop-off with Phoenix should prompt concerns. No need to even get excited over this deal. Brooks remains locked into an overseas deal in China until March.
Grant Hill, Phoenix Suns forward: OK, so at age 38, Hill doesn't exactly make the Lakers younger. But he still remains productive and could help the Lakers' defense, particularly if they part ways with Metta World Peace via the amnesty clause. The Arizona Republic's Paul Coro has reported, though, that it's likely Hill will re-sign with the Suns.
Nick Young, Washington Wizards forward. He doesn't offer much on defense, but can Young shoot and score. The Lakers know first-hand, and the former USC/Cleveland High product would remain comfortable in his hometown. But The Washington Post's Michael Lee reports the Wizards view re-signing Young, a restricted free agent, a top priority.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Washington Wizards forward Nick Young would inject some youth into the Lakers' lineup. But the Wizards are intent on keeping him. Credit: Nick Wass / Associated Press