AUGUST 6, 6:55 pm: Jodie Meeks' agent says his client will not sign with any team for the veteran's minimum, according to the Los Angeles Times. Meeks has been linked to the Lakers organization in recent days, but this development could put Meeks out of the Lakers price range. The team still has a $3MM mini mid-level exception available to spend, but Laker GM Mitch Kupchak has repeatedly stated his reluctance to use it before opening night.
AUGUST 3, 3:56 pm: The Lakers' offseason has been a successful one so far, with the team adding Antawn Jamison, re-signing Jordan Hill, and of course acquiring Steve Nash to man the point. But one area where the Lakers could still use an upgrade is on the wing. A veteran that could be penciled in behind Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace on the depth chart would go along way toward further strengthening Los Angeles' bench.
Before he agreed to sign with the Cavaliers, C.J. Miles was reportedly drawing serious interest from the Lakers, but he appears to be off the market now. The Lakers have also reportedly displayed some interest in Jodie Meeks and Leandro Barbosa, though Mitch Kupchak has expressed a reluctance to use the team's $3.09MM mini mid-level exception.
Assuming the Lakers are likely looking for a player that can shoot threes, play solid defense, and is willing to sign for the veteran's minimum, let's run through a few possible free agent targets for the club....
- Leandro Barbosa: While Barbosa is a dangerous scorer off the bench, I'm not sure he's an ideal fit for this Lakers squad. Barbosa is more of a combo guard than a wing player, and figures to be seeking a multiyear deal for more than the veteran's minimum.
- Matt Barnes: After the last game of the 2011/12 season, Barnes suggested he may prioritize financial considerations rather than taking a discount for a chance at a ring. Throw in his recent run-in with the law, and I doubt he's high on the Lakers' wish list.
- Josh Childress: If the Lakers want outside shooting, they'll be looking elsewhere -- Childress is five for 40 from three-point range in his last two seasons.
- Carlos Delfino: From an on-court perspective, Delfino appears to be a perfect fit for the Lakers. He plays tough on the defensive end, and while he's a streaky shooter, his 3PT% always ends up around 36% or 37%. Again though, money could be an issue. Like Barbosa, Delfino is reportedly seeking a multiyear contract worth more than the veteran's minimum. If he and the Lakers were willing to compromise and work out a one-year, mini mid-level deal, this could be a nice fit.
- Ryan Gomes: Gomes' track record suggests he could bounce back from a horrible 2011/12 campaign and become a decent rotation player, but there are safer ways for the Lakers to spend their money.
- Tracy McGrady: There are better three-point shooters and better defenders on this list than McGrady, but he'd be a solid veteran presence for the Lakers. He's coming off a minimum-salary contract with the Hawks, so I'd guess he would play for the veteran's minimum. And although he set career lows in points and minutes per game in 2011/12, he was still relatively efficient for a part-time player.
- Jodie Meeks: Meeks remains perhaps the most likely target for the Lakers -- he's not a deadly outside shooter, but he's reliable, and he's not a liability on defense. If Meeks is willing to sign for the minimum, I bet he ends up wearing a Lakers uniform.
- Mickael Pietrus: Pietrus wouldn't be a bad pickup for the Lakers, but he shot a few too many threes last year, given his mediocre percentage (33.5%). And based on recent comments made by his agent, it doesn't sound as if Pietrus will be signing a minimum-salary deal anytime soon.
- Martell Webster: For all we know, Webster could thrive in L.A., but the Lakers figure to be looking to bring in someone a little more reliable, rather than an underachiever with upside. I'd guess the same argument applies to Terrence Williams.
I'm relatively confident that at least one of the players listed above will sign with the Lakers in the coming weeks, but it's not clear which one(s) it'll be. To me, Meeks looks like L.A.'s best bet, followed by Delfino, McGrady, and perhaps Barbosa, but we'll have to wait and see which direction the team goes.