The news of the first significant free agent signing for the Los Angeles Lakers surfaced on Monday with the team reportedly on the verge of reaching a deal with veteran forward Antawn Jamison. These reports may have been premature with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak claiming that nothing is imminent in terms of any player getting signed.
Even though the consensus is that Jamison will sign a deal with the Lakers for the veteran’s minimum in the next few days, the storied NBA franchise plans to work out free agent Jermaine O’Neal in Las Vegas on Tuesday according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports via Twitter:
Lakers to work out free agent forward Jermaine O’Neal in Las Vegas on Tuesday, source tells Y! O’Neal has recovered from knee surgery in Feb
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 17, 2012
Once Kupchak made it clear that the Lakers have no intention of using the mini mid-level exception of $3 per season to upgrade the bench, the options have become even more limited for Los Angeles. With only the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million to entice prospective free agents, the Lakers will almost certainly be unable to attractive younger talent in free agency.
Some sign-and-trade possibilities are out there with players like Brandon Rush and Courtney Lee still available, but it would be safe to say at this point that the Lakers are targeting veteran players willing to sign for the veteran’s minimum. It appears that the front office has no intention to take on any more salary in an effort to avoid a massive luxury tax.
With that being said, O’Neal, Jamison and Grant Hill remain viable options. There’s no question that out of the three veterans mentioned that O’Neal is the least desirable with numerous injury problems over the years that kept him from reclaiming his All-Star form.
Last season, O’Neal averaged 5.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Boston Celtics. The veteran forward/center only played in 25 games for the Celtics last year.
Over the past two seasons, O’Neal saw the floor a total 49 times for Boston due to nagging injuries that seemed to resurface after considerable time on the floor.
Obviously, O’Neal isn’t a great option for the Lakers to backup Andrew Bynum and or Pau Gasol, but he may be their only option outside of Jordan Hill and rookie Robert Sacre. With no guarantees the Lakers will re-sign Hill or take a chance on Sacre, O’Neal will probably get a shot in Los Angeles with a good workout in Las Vegas.