The Lakers may have made an upgrade to their bench this summer with the addition of former Sixth Man of the Year Antawn Jamison, but the team still needs a viable option as a backup for Kobe Bryant in the backcourt.
Many free agent options are already off the table for the Lakers and with every passing day more potential signees end up elsewhere.
After signing Jamison and bringing back Jordan Hill, GM Mitch Kupchak made it clear that he doesn’t expect the team to use the mini mid-level exception of roughly $3 million per season to sign another free agent. The Lakers will only consider signing a player using this exception is if they can get consider value for it. Otherwise, they’ll use the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million to bring in another player or two.
As of right now, the Lakers options are limited with or without using the exception. The team currently seems to have narrowed down the options in free agency to Kenyon Martin, Leandro Barbosa and Jodie Meeks. All three of these players are capable of signing for more money than the Lakers can offer with another team, but unable to have a better chance of competing for an NBA title next season.
Of the three players mentioned above, Meeks appeared to be the most likely to sign with the Lakers before next season. Now that may have changed with Meeks unwilling to sign for the veteran’s minimum according to Meeks’ agent, David Bauman via Mark Medina of the L.A. Times:
“We’re happy to talk, but we’re not talking minimum for a guy like Jodie,” Bauman told The Times in a phone interview on Monday. “He’ll get more than the minimum wherever he signs.”
As arguably one of the best free agent options at shooting guard along with Barbosa, Meeks definitely sparks the interest the Lakers’ front office. At 25 years-old, Meeks brings some much needed youth to the Lakers’ roster along with shooting ability from beyond the arc. The Lakers will have brought in a young player that can stretch the floor and add an offensive threat off the bench.
Although Meeks is an intriguing addition to the Lakers’ bench, Los Angeles remains reluctant to use the exception and may no longer consider the former Kentucky standout an option in free agency without the ability to sign him for the veteran’s minimum.