Lakers Make Key Free Agency Moves: Sign Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff

| by Alex Groberman

Unlike the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t need a complete overhaul, they just needed a tune-up.

On Thursday it was announced that the Lakers had come to agreements with forward Matt Barnes and veteran center Theo Ratliff.

Barnes elected to sign a two-year, $3.6 million contract with the Lakers. The deal will pay the athletic swingman $1.7 million next season, and give him a player option for $1.9 million in the following season.

Earlier in the week, the Cleveland Cavaliers offered Barnes $7 million over two years with a team option for the third season. Barnes, however, wanted more guaranteed money if he was going to sign with a non-championship caliber team.

Barnes also considered an offer with the Toronto Raptors, but the sign-and-trade deal that would have seen him get $9 million over two years fell apart.

The Lakers also added some depth to the big-man ranks by adding veteran center, Theo Ratliff. The 37-year-old Ratliff played 49 games last season with the San Antonio Spurs and Charlotte Bobcats. His time with the Bobcats saw his averages go up to season highs of 5.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.54 shots.

During his 15-year NBA career with the Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers Minnesota Timberwolves, Spurs and Bobcats he has had career averages of 7.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.45 blocks.

The Los Angeles Lakers added depth along the front line by signing Theo Ratliff, the team announced on Thursday.

"I've had a long and very rewarding career, and joining a storied and legendary franchise such as the Lakers adds an even more special element," Ratliff said in a statement released by the team. "I look forward to playing for Coach Jackson and with great players such as Kobe [Bryant], Derek [Fisher], Pau [Gasol], Lamar [Odom] Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum and all my other new teammates, and hopefully to helping the Lakers win a third straight championship."

Ratliff ranks 18th in NBA history with 1,963 blocks and led the league three times.

"Theo has long been considered to be one of the best defensive big men in the league," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told the media. "He is a consummate professional and a welcome addition to our team. Together with Bynum, Gasol, Odom and Artest, he gives us a formidable and deep front line."

While many have been quick to anoint the Heat as the big winners this summer for their ability to create the new “Big Three” and make something out of nothing with no cap space, the Lakers have put together a very impressive offseason.

Earlier in the summer, they added Steve Blake to shore up the point guard position.

Going into free agency, the defending champions had three goals:

  1. Depth at the point guard and center positions.
  2. Get more athletic.
  3. Re-sign Derek Fisher.

Check, check and check.