Over the past week or so, the trade rumors involving the Los Angeles Lakers acquiring Dwight Howard have been giving a lot mixed signals. One minute a three-team deal is getting done with the Houston Rockets and the next it will be made with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Needless to say, no one knows what is going on and Howard could virtually end up playing anywhere other than with the Orlando Magic or Brooklyn Nets next season.
With no indication if the Lakers truly have a shot at landing Howard via trade, Los Angeles has started exploring options in free agency in order to lockup players to help improve the bench. Unfortunately, the funds are extremely limited to sign free agents and the Lakers have been resorted to using veteran minimum contracts.
Even though the veteran’s minimum hasn’t attracted a lot of free agents to Los Angeles, the Lakers have a few players interested in signing for that amount in order to play for a chance at a championship in purple and gold next season.
One of those players is veteran forward Antawn Jamison. With Jamison reportedly turning down the Nets and Charlotte Bobcats, the Lakers signing Jamison was seemingly a forgone conclusion with Los Angeles being the last team on his wish list.
Unfortunately, that may not be the case with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak claiming that nothing is imminent in terms of signing Jamison or any other player according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com:
“We’re not about to do anything,” Kupchak told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “I would know.”
It’s no secret that GMs in professional sports can be tightlipped about making moves and won’t let outside sources know too much information. Denying a trade rumor involving Howard or a deal centered around Andrew Bynum makes perfect sense, but saying that the signing of Jamison isn’t basically a done deal makes many wonder.
Along with making it clear that there is no imminent deal in the works to sign Jamison, Kupchak also let it be known that the Lakers have no intention in using the mini mid-level exception ($3 million per season) to upgrade the bench. This changes things drastically for potential free agent acquisitions as the team will only be using the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million to sign players.
Fortunately, the veteran’s minimum is enough to sign Grant Hill, Jermaine O’Neal or Jamison, but nowhere near enough to bring in younger talent. With that being said, the three players listed above and possibly Jordan Hill may be the team’s only options in free agency moving forward.