Now I know that Laker fans haven’t forgotten this alleged 6-foot, Puerto Rican dynamo of a back-up guard and it’s safe to say until championship banner No. 17 is hoisted in the rafters, they may never forget. Setting aside what he did and is currently doing during the post-season, during the regular season Barea averaged 9.5 points and 3.9 assists per game while shooting 43.9-percent from the field and 34.9-percent from beyond the arc. He’s small but fast and is a good paint-penetrator who’s willing to make the extra pass. Then there’s also the added frustration on all the other guards trying to stay in front of him and the big men trying to keep him out of the paint. At least so long as he’s in a Lakers uniform, there’s no threat of Bynum or the rest of the Lakers players being out-played by him. It wouldn’t be the first, or I’m betting the last, the Lakers would consider a player based on how he performed against them. (See Steve Blake)
Okay, so obviously we’re digging deep into the free agent market with Price, but he does offer some skills that the Lakers could use if youth and athleticism is what they are aiming for this offseason. With the Utah Jazz he averaged 3.3 points and 1 assist per game, and if those numbers seem low, they are, but remember who he played most of the year alongside — Deron Williams. If given some time, coaching and surrounding him with the right unit, he could realize his potential — even if it isn’t that great.
The reality is, the Lakers don’t have a whole lot of wiggle room to employ a guard that fits the bill. Considering they signed Blake to a long contract and it’s doubtful his play last year inspired little to motivate other general managers to call Mitch Kupchak regarding his trade-potential, the Lakers may want to take their chances and see how Blake might improve or flourish not having to run the triangle. There’s a reason he was attractive to the Lakers in the first place and if the new coach utilizes a system that Blake feels more comfortable playing in, it may be the way to go at least for the time being.
While guys like Williams and Paul seem like the way the Lakers should go if they want to get back to “Showtime,” it’s not looking like it’s at all plausible even when they reach their free agency in 2012. The Lakers aren’t poor by any stretch, but their financial commitments through 2014 certainly have them hand-cuffed to either retaining the guys they have now or get someone at a bargain. The problem with most bargains are you often get what you paid for.