A Perfect Reserve: Lakers Should Consider Caron Butler

In less than 20 days NBA basketball is back. While training camps and practices have resumed the Lakers still need to make a few roster adjustments in order to return to championship caliber basketball. With rumors of big trades for Dwight Howard or Chris Paul swirling about, why not consider adding a player who has already been a Laker once before? A player who has played with Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom and has already proven himself in the league. A player like Caron Butler would have an immediate positive impact on the Lakers and be a great addition to the team.

Caron Butler first played for the Lakers in the 2004-2005 season. He was part of the trade that sent Shaquille O’Neal to Miami, and Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, and a future first round draft pick to the Lakers. He played in 77 games for the Lakers and was an integral part in their offense. In Butler’s nine years in the league he has bounced around, playing for Miami, Los Angeles, Washington, and most recently Dallas.  However, wherever he has played he’s been a valuable asset on both the offensive and defensive end. As a Maverick, Butler helped build a championship team, and now as a free agent the Lakers and Butler could be a perfect fit.

The 6-7, two-time All-Star wants to sign with a team who will offer him more than a one-year contract, the current offer from the Mavericks. Butler is returning from a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee that he sustained on Jan. 1. He missed the rest of the season and has spent the majority of the off-season training in Chicago. So can the Lakers afford to sign a veteran player for multiple years, especially one coming off an injury?

The Lakers can afford to sign Caron Butler because they need a strong shooting guard to back up Kobe Bryant. Shannon Brown lost his explosive shooting somewhere in the midst of last season, and as a free agent it is unlikely he will re-sign with the Lakers. Butler would not only fill that void but also be a major upgrade over Brown. His career averages are nearly 17 points and six boards a night. This is a vast improvement from Brown’s career average of nine points and two boards per game. Similarly, Butler’s hard-nosed and aggressive defense will work perfectly with Mike Brown’s coaching style.

More importantly, the Lakers do not have the time to invest in a younger shooting guard who has yet to prove himself. If they want to keep their core players like Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol and remain competitive with the younger teams in the league, they need to sign players with proven experience like Butler. There is no doubt the Lakers should be adding players who will help them keep up with the youthful and energetic teams of the NBA like the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, the Lakers core of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom is already strong enough that just a few adjustments to the roster could be the best thing for the Lakers.

The Lakers need players who can help win now, and what’s better than adding a championship hungry veteran? Butler may have won an NBA championship last season, but sitting on the sidelines watching your teammates fight for the NBA title is certainly different from playing. Butler’s thirst to reach that level of basketball again is fresh in his mind, and that attitude is exactly the kind of player the Lakers need.

While Butler may not be the answer to all the Lakers problems he certainly would excel as a reserve for Kobe and is worth looking into. If anything the addition of Butler would bring the Lakers much closer to the championship caliber roster they once had.

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