The Los Angeles Lakers were already having a hard time of it with a healthy front court. They now have to move forward and make their very difficult climb back to playoff contention without their 3 best big men. Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol are out indefinitely with shoulder and concussion problems respectively. Jordan Hill is also out for about a week with a hip injury.
The remaining big men on the roster are rookie Robert Sacre and Antwan Jamison who is more of a hybrid forward more penchant for scoring than defending and rebounding.
The Lakers opened up a roster spot with the waiving of rookie point guard Daruis Johnson-Odom yesterday. The Lakers will likely look to add some help in the front court while they wait to get some of the regulars back from injury.
The big men free agent market is not too impressive. Here is a list of the top free agent forwards/centers available:
- Kenyon Martin; 6-9 Forward: The enigmatic 35 year old forward who played for the Los Angeles Clippers last season is still available. As evident by his performance last season he is still a hard working, intense and defensive minded player that most definitely would add moxie to the somewhat lackadaisical Lakers. The question with Kenyon, and likely the reason he has remained unsigned, is with his personality which clashed last season with Clippers’ Head Coach Vinny Del Negro. The Lakers are already having chemistry issues and a potential cancer in the locker room might be too risky at this point.
- Arinze Onuaku; 6-9 Forward: The D-League is always a place where NBA teams can fish for talent, both young and old. The 25 year old Arinze seems to be the only big man that has NBA level potential at the moment. The former Syracuse Orangeman is currently playing for the Canton Charge which is the Cleveland Cavilers affiliate. Arinze is playing well, averaging 14.3 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 1 block per game and shooting 56% from the field. Arinze went undrafted in the 2010 NBA draft and had signed with a team in the Lithuanian basketball league before being waived due to suffering a knee injury. Arinze has been plaqued by knee and leg injuries his entire career but at present time it appears he is healthy and could provide some much needed front court help for the Lakers.
- Donte Green; 6-9 Forward. Donte Greene is more of a scoring small forward than a prototypical big man which is what the Lakers are likely seeking. He has the height but not the strength or girth to play the 4 or 5 position in your typical NBA offense. However, in a Mike D’Antoni system where scoring is a priority Donte might work. Donte Greene is recently recovered from a broken ankle that he suffered during a preseason workout with the Brooklyn Nets. The injury is what kept Donte from signing with a team until now.
- Brian Cook; 6-9 Forward. The name might make some Lakers fans cringe as his 5 year Lakers career was serviceable at best. Cook lacks any type of defensive ability or toughness, but what he does well is an area the Lakers are currently struggling in, 3 point efficiency. A big man, or any position for that matter, with range is something that is coveted in a Mike D’Antoni led team and is exactly what Brian Cook brings; the problem is that is all that Brian Cook brings.
- Troy Murphy; 6-11 Forward. The former Los Angeles Laker Troy Murphy was playing for the Dallas Mavericks this season and was actually in the rotation before he was waived on November 29th in order for the team to make room for another former Laker Derek Fisher. Troy was averaging 4.6 ppg and 3.5 rpg in 18 minutes per game. Troy would bring both rebounding and an outside shooting touch to the Lakers front court. The issue with Troy is on the defensive end as he is very slow footed with hardly any laterall movement.
Other free agent possibilities: Chris Wright (Maine Red Claws/NBA D-League), Brian Cardinal, Sean Williams, Darko Milicic (waived by the Boston Celtics by request of Darko for personal reasons), Chris Anderson, Dan Gadzuric.
– Fern Rea “@fullcourtfern”