After acquiring Steve Nash, signing Antawn Jamison and bringing back Jordan Hill, the consensus is that the Los Angeles Lakers need to bring in another player or two to improve the bench. The one position the Lakers are trying to find an upgrade from off the bench is at shooting guard.
With the Lakers’ front office limited in terms of bringing free agents, GM Mitch Kupchak and company are hoping to bring in the final piece of the puzzle with the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million. There are some via options that the Lakers can explore with the veteran’s minimum to bring in a free agent, but few are long-term options as the majority would sign for one season and likely retire or attempt to sign another one-year deal.
The recent additions of Nash and Jamison were definitely steps in the right direction for the Lakers as they should be a much improved team next season. Unfortunately, both of these veteran additions are short-term fixes.
The only way the Lakers will be able to get younger and improve the squad moving forward in free agency is by using the mini mid-level exception. With this exception, the Lakers can sign a player at a rate of $3 million per season. This remains the team’s best bargaining chip in free agency, but the Lakers are reluctant to use it.
Reportedly, Kupchak claims the only way the team will use this exception is if they can bring in a considerable upgrade according to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com:
“We look to add value. We have a mini mid-level still available but I think it’s unlikely we’d use it unless there’s an incredible value out there.”
Even though there is an obvious void at guard behind Kobe on the bench, the Lakers may be content without making another move. There’s has been an indication that they intend to add one more player with only 12 players currently under contract for next season and a minimum of 13 being required. Andrew Goudelock and rookie Darius Johnson-Odom are candidates to fill that void, but the Lakers are going all in next season and will almost certainly try to sign a proven player to backup Kobe.
One player that the Lakers have recently shown interest in is 24-year-old shooting guard Jodie Meeks. With the Philadelphia 76ers passing on the opportunity to re-sign the former Kentucky standout, Meeks is still looking for a new team in free agency.
The Lakers interest in Meeks shows that they may very well be interested in signing the young guard with the mini mid-level. Other candidates for the Lakers using the veteran’s minimum rather than the exception to fill the vacant spot are Roger Mason Jr., Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas, Michael Redd and Leandro Barbosa.