In an effort to make their already solid bench even deeper, the Los Angeles Lakers are looking into signing Kenyon Martin, Jodie Meeks or Leandro Barbosa.
It was widely reported last week that L.A. was also taking a serious look at C.J. Miles, however, the former Utah Jazz swingman decided to go in a different direction and ink a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
You’ll recall, when this summer first began, the Lakers got absolutely destroyed by everyone for their admittedly awful bench. What a difference a couple of months can make, though.
The league’s most underrated front office executive, Mitch Kupchak, somehow managed to turn the weakest reserve group around into one of the deepest while nobody was paying attention.
By re-signing Jordan Hill and Devin Ebanks, and then adding Antawn Jamison, Kupchak was able to address all of L.A.’s bench weaknesses without really spending an insane amount of cash. Everyone got good deals, but good deals that will be off the books when Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash call it quits.
The only thing this team lacks right now is a three-point shooter off the bench, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see how they can fill that void. Brandon Rush re-signed with the Golden State Warriors, Rashard Lewis inked a deal with the Miami Heat, and Jodie Meeks, while still available, didn’t really have the greatest three-point shooting year in 2011-12. Technically, he’s a shooter – but he’s a shooter who shot 37 percent from behind the arc last year. That’s a noticeable decline from the 40 percent he shot just one season earlier.
On top of all that, his agent told the Los Angeles Times today that Meeks wouldn’t settle for the only thing the Lakers would be willing to pay him – the veteran’s minimum.
"We're happy to talk, but we're not talking minimum for a guy like Jodie," Bauman told The Times. "He'll get more than the minimum wherever he signs."
So what does that mean? Well, it means that L.A. will wait Meeks out and hope that he doesn’t get the deal he’s looking for elsewhere, or Kupchak will just move on and try to add the best player available on the market…even if that guy isn’t a three-point shooter.
Who else are the Lakers looking at? Last week, there were some rumors about them perhaps being interested in Leandro Barbosa. As noted by ESPN’s Marc Stein:
Game of the day now: Brazil v Russia. Hearing out of Brazil camp that they believe Lakers have interest in free-agent Leandro Barbosa— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 2, 2012
Question is how much Lakers, w/only 13 contracts but WELL into tax territory, have to spend. Brazil also worried Barbosa might be pressing— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 2, 2012
On Monday, Sports Illustrated Sam Amick also reported that perhaps L.A. would look into inking Kenyon Martin to a deal. Per SI:
Kenyon Martin, meanwhile, isn't so lucky. The 12-year veteran was a key reserve for the Clippers, his impact going way beyond his marginal numbers (5.2 points, 4.3 rebounds) for a team that reached the second round of the playoffs for the second time in franchise history. But sources said the 34-year-old power forward is holding up this later stage of the hiring process for frontcourt free agents, with the Lakers and the Nets among the teams he's considering and negotiation leverage seemingly gone because so many of his colleagues seem willing to take minimum deals.
The Lakers certainly don’t need Martin, but he may end up being all they can really get for the minimum. At this point in the offseason, it might be time to come to terms with the fact that a three-point shooter just isn’t out there to be had anymore.