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Category: Free agent profile

Gilbert Arenas is a bad fit for the Lakers

Gilbert ArenasIn assembling his wish list, it appears Gilbert Arenas has taken the same approach any 10-year-old does when they're writing letters to Santa.

No matter how outrageous or unrealistic, pick a lavish gift and simply hope Santa proves more accommodating than the parents. And in Arenas' case, one of his hopes reportedly involves signing with the Lakers after the Orlando Magic waived him through the amnesty clause. 

But the Lakers should make a list, check it twice and realize Arenas is more naughty than nice.

The Lakers can't wax nostalgic on Arenas dropping a career-high 60 points against them when he played for the Washington Wizards in 2006. They can't afford to hold optimism that Arenas will suddenly become an NBA all-star again. They can't allow Arenas' L.A. hometown roots and Hollywood personality to convince them he'll fit right in with the Lakers. 

The Lakers, as reported by ESPN.com's Mark Stein, "continue to give the impression that they're hesitant to launch into a Gil experiment." The Lakers need to continue thinking that way because Arenas hasn't been good for goodness' sake.

He may have learned his lesson after earning a suspension for most of the 2009-10 season for his involvement with Javaris Crittenton in having handguns present during a locker room dispute. But there are concerns that go beyond that unfortunate episode. The Lakers may not have to absorb a weighty contract, such as his $111-million deal, but there are many signs that he carries lots of baggage far heavier than anything Santa's carrying.

Thanks to multiple knee surgeries on top of the suspension, Arenas has managed to appear in just 117 of a possible 328 regular-season games since signing his monster contract. After the Magic traded for him 24 games into last season, Arenas averaged only 8 points on 34.4% shooting the rest of the way, a steep drop from his career averages of 21.2 points per game on 42.1% shooting. 

At a time when the Lakers' roster remains unstable, banking on Arenas returning to full form proves too much of a risky venture. He remains unpredictable and, whether he intends to or not, could unsettle a fractured locker room even more. That's why for the Lakers' sake, it's good it appears they don't want Arenas to come to town. 

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--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Gilbert Arenas is no longer the player he was in 2006 with the Wizards. Credit: Mark Avery / Associated Press

Lakers' free agent options remain limited

Nick YoungThis should be a time the Lakers eye the top free-agent talent, work the phones and devote whatever resources necessary to secure the deal.

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.

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-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

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

Top four free agents Lakers should pursue

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.

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Free-agent profile: Troy Murphy

Boston Celtics power forward Troy Murphy

Type of free agent: unrestricted

Positives: Murphy has averaged double figures in seven seasons and five double-double efforts in points and rebounds in his 10-year career. The Lakers surely have that presence already with a tall lineup in Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, but Murphy would be a decent insurance policy. His rebounding abilities would complement Bynum's and relieve Gasol of the duty, which he has appeared more than happy to delegate to Bynum. He's also a reliable option in spacing the floor and finding the open man.

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Free-agent profile: Chuck Hayes

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. 

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Free agent profile: Mike Bibby

Mike Bibby

This is the 47th post in a series of free-agent profiles that analyzes players and how they might fit in with the Lakers.

Miami Heat guard Mike Bibby

Type of free agent: Unrestricted

Positives: Considering Bibby's willingness to shed his $6.2-million salary with Washington to join the Heat last season, it's clear he's interested in playing for a contender rather than just collecting a paycheck. Enter the Lakers, who need to upgrade at point guard but have only limited resources.

Acquiring Bibby wouldn't solve the Lakers' point guard problems, considering he averaged only 7.3 points on 43.7% shooting. That's far from the double-digit average he cracked when the Sacramento Kings battled it out with the Lakers earlier this decade. Still, Bibby's presence and three-point threat (a career 38.1%) will help the Lakers' outside shooting.

Negatives: The Lakers base their success on the playoffs, and Bibby's track record with Miami last postseason hardly looks encouraging. He shot 28.1%, committed 17 turnovers and played so poorly that he lost his starting spot to Mario Chalmers. Considering the team's weaknesses at point guard, the Lakers can't afford to add a player who is inconsistent. Besides, the Lakers also need to inject youth and speed. Bibby doesn't fit that description either.

Verdict: Rewind the clocks to earlier this decade and it'd be a no-brainer for the Lakers to pick up Bibby. Then again, the Lakers were fine with their talent then and he commanded a heavier price tag. These are different times and the Lakers need to take different measures. 

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Free agent profile: Jason Collins

Free agent profile: Mike Dunleavy

Free agent profile: A.J. Price

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Free agent profile: Jason Collins

This is the 46th post in a series of free-agent profiles that analyzes players and how they might fit in with the Lakers.

Atlanta Hawks center Jason Collins

Type of free agent: Unrestricted

Positives: He became an integral part of Atlanta's first-round upset over the Orlando Magic by playing tough defense on Dwight Howard. That included making Howard earn his points and drawing fouls, limiting the Magic's perimeter shooting and his willingness to play physical. The seven-foot Collins isn't going to command heavy minutes, but it's valuable to have his him when the Lakers play teams with elite centers, such as Orlando. Collins also brings plenty of playoff experience, including NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003 with the New Jersey Nets.

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Free agent profile: Mike Dunleavy

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This is the 45th post in a series of free-agent profiles that analyzes players and how they might fit in with the Lakers.

Indiana Pacers small forward Mike Dunleavy

Type of free agent: Unrestricted

Positives: Dunleavy's shooting last season improved to 46.2% from the field and 40.2% from three-point range partly because of his consistent health. His production has remained steady whenever that's been the case. Though plus-minus stats can overly inflate a players' value if they're constantly around superstars, Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe recently noted the Pacers became a better team with Dunleavy on the floor in all three seasons in which he logged at least 60 games. In fact, most of the Pacers’ best core lineups featured Dunleavy, who has a high basketball IQ.

Negatives: Even if Dunleavy proves capable of handling the ball, moving off screens and setting up teammates, he's limited athletically. That's not going to translate well to Mike Brown's system that wants strong defenders creating transition opportunities. The Lakers would be better served looking for quicker players.

Verdict: After being vastly overpaid at nearly $60 million in his 10-year career, Dunleavy's market value will plummet. The reasons point to his overall skill set and the upcoming collective bargaining agreement. That gives teams, such as the Lakers, leverage. Limitations aside, Dunleavy fills the Lakers needs in outside shooting and he could come cheaply.

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Free agent profile: A.J. Price

Free agent profile: Anthony Parker

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--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Free agent profile: A.J. Price

This is the 44th post in a series of free-agent profiles that analyzes players and how they might fit in with the Lakers.

Indiana Pacers point guard A.J. Price

Type of free agent: Unrestricted

Positives: His strong scoring instincts allow him to flourish on pick-and-rolls and in isolation sets. Considering the Lakers are in need of scoring off the bench, Price's addition would prove valuable. He's a year removed from having offseason knee surgery, so it's possible he'll vanish any concerns about his inconsistent 2010-2011 campaign, when he shot only 35% from the field. 

Negatives: Price's low shooting percentage could also point to his overall inconsistency and trigger-happy tendencies. As Indy Cornrows' Nathan S. noted, the Pacers went 2-7 in games in which Price attempted at least 10 field goals. There are plenty of other weaknesses. He lacks enough speed and athleticism to effectively run the break and defend quick point guards, two necessities in Mike Brown's system. He also lacks passing instincts, a must considering the Lakers have talent who want the ball. 

Verdict: Considering the Lakers' point guard role demands strong passing skills, the Lakers should pursue other options. Should Price be the only one available, however, it'd be better for the Lakers to pick him up than not addressing their need for another point guard at all. 

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Free agent profile: Anthony Parker

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Free-agent profile: Ben Uzoh

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected] Follow me on Facebook.

Free agent profile: Anthony Parker

This is the 43rd post in a series of free-agent profiles that analyzes players and how they might fit in with the Lakers.

Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Anthony Parker

Type of free agent: Unrestricted

Positives: A career 44.5% three-point shooter, Parker would immediately bolster the Lakers' poor outside shooting. He's a reliable play-maker and defender, which doesn't make him entirely one-dimensional. He had already played under Mike Brown before in Cleveland, making Parker one tweak that could improve the Lakers' bench. Besides being the Lakers, they could entice him to come to L.A. so he could be close to his sister Candace, who also lights up Staples Center with the Sparks whenever she's not hurt.

Negatives: At 36 years-old, Parker hardly ranks among the top options the Lakers could pursue to address their shooting woes. It's also plausible that age and declining skillset will make him less valuable. Consider that his 39.9% mark from three-point range last season with Cleveland marked the lowest percentage his rookie season. His 1997-98 campaign in Philadelphia marked the only other time in his 8-year NBA career that he shot below 40% from downtown.

Verdict: There are conflicting reports whether Parker wants to resign with the Cavs. Immediately after Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico reported he's already moved out of his Cleveland home and does not plan to stay with the Cavaliers. Parker told The News-Herald's Bob Finnan that he hasn't ruled out resigning with the team. Nonetheles

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Free agent profile: Jeff Green

Free-agent profile: Ben Uzoh

Free agent profile: Dan Gadzuric

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

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