Regardless of if Dwight Howard ends up in purple and gold, the Los Angeles Lakers have had a great offseason that has seen them add to the same depth that has worn down their starters these last two seasons.
The rightfully heralded acquisition of Steve Nash has drawn a lot of praise considering the need dire need for a point guard and the measly first round picks and trade exception the Lakers used. The first round picks that won’t really have much value considering they’ll be late in the draft order and the Lakers are looking to add another championship to the Kobe Bryant era as his career comes to an end.
With Nash comes a need for guys he can create for and the Lakers have done a great job in adding floor-spreading forward Antawn Jamison and re-signing center Jordan Hill.
Hill was acquired in a trade deadline deal for Derek Fisher and proved to be a huge asset off the Laker bench as the season progressed. His rebound, energy and size add a lot to the already lengthy Lakers frontcourt with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum standing seven feet tall, Hill’s presence off the bench allows for a constant emphasis on rebounding when either Gasol or Bynum are on the pine.
Hill’s youth and price tag also make it a great re-signing because the Lakers have his Bird Rights. With owning his Bird Rights, the Lakers can go over the cap to sign Hill at whatever price clip necessary while making it possible for them to sign other free agents and not damage their cap room. Despite that option, the Lakers also added the three-point shooting and scoring of Jamison at the veteran’s minimum.
Last year, Jamison averaged 17 points a game for the lowly Cavaliers. Although it was an inefficient clip (43%), Jamison won’t be the second option in Los Angeles. Behind Kobe, Bynum, Gasol and Nash, Jamison will get plenty of open looks as the defense focuses in on the Lakers’ more potent options.
Jamison has thrived in an off-the-bench role before. He’s won Sixth Man of the Year in Dallas with Nash as his teammate so the adjustment to coming off the bench won’t be much, if anything at all.
In adding Jamison for so cheap, the Lakers still have the option of adding other free agents with their taxpayer mid-level exception of $3 million. They can give that to a free agent or split it up to individual guys. It would be nice to see them add a shooting guard to spell Kobe.
With Leandro Barbosa, Carlos Delfino and other slim pickings ready to be taken, the Lakers should make a move fast. Assuming they bring back Devan Ebanks to fill out their small forward rotation, there is reason to believe there will be a formidable bench in Lakerland.
It won’t be the best in the NBA in terms of personnel but the versatility that adding Nash really makes for a lot of unique looks for the Lakers. Nash’s ability to make anyone he plays around better will allow for more efficient looks for Jamison, easier looks at the rim for Hill, efficient cuts by Ebanks will allow his athleticism to be taken care of and Steve Blake’s three-point shooting can get even better.
In Bynum and Gasol, the Lakers will always have an All-Star big man playing with their role players and that will allow the bench players’ skill sets to be more effective as they will be playing with elite talent from the point guard through center position.
The most impressive thing about the Lakers’ offseason isn’t simply who they added, it’s how they added them.
With Chris Paul almost becoming a Laker, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol were traded and now the Lakers still have Gasol and turned the trade exception they received for Odom into Nash’s magician like ball handling. Throw in the fact they got Jamison for literally as little as possible with Hill coming back to round out one of the best frontcourts in the NBA, the Lakers have done very well for themselves.
There’s reason to be optimistic about next season, with or without Dwight Howard’s indecisiveness.
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