L.A. Lakers News: Barnes and Barbosa Needed to Bolster Bench?

on August 22 2012 3:13 PM
The Lakers are Jamison's fifth career team.
The Lakers are Jamison's fifth career team. cavstheblog.com

The Lakers made a few big moves this offseason to improve their starting lineup.

Los Angeles acquired the NBA's best center when they traded Andrew Bynum in a four-team deal that landed them Dwight Howard. They also acquired Steve Nash, giving L.A. its best point guard in 20 years.

While the Lakers have arguably the best starting five in the league, their bench is still a question mark.

Antawn Jamison was the team's biggest addition to the bench. The forward has had a productive career, averaging 19.5 points per game in 14 seasons, and 17.2 points for the Cavaliers last year.

The 36-year-old can still score, but he's on the downside of his career. His 40.3 shooting percentage was his worst since being drafted, and he isn't much more than a scorer.

L.A. also added Jodie Meeks. Unlike Jamison, Meeks is very young, at just 25 years old. He averaged 8.4 points per game for the 76ers in 2011-12.

Meeks can get hot and put up a lot of points on occasion, but he doesn't do much, besides shoot the ball. In three NBA seasons, he never managed to average more than 2.5 rebounds or 1.1 assists per game.

Between Howard, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, Los Angeles has enough players that can score points. The organization may look to add a few more versatile players for the upcoming season.

Leandro Barbosa is one of the better free agents that are still available. The Lakers are reportedly interested in the nine-year veteran. He split time between the Pacers and Raptors last season, averaging 11.1 points per game.

The Lakers bench is weak, especially defensively, in the back court. Meeks is not a good defender, and Steve Blake and Chris Duhon aren't very athletic. Barbosa would give L.A. a versatile defender who can defend both point and shooting guards.

If the Lakers want to return to the NBA Finals, they're going to have to do a better job of slowing down the best guards in the West. Russell Westbrook couldn't be stopped in Oklahoma City's five-game defeat of Los Angeles in the second round of the playoffs this past season. Nash is also one of the worst defenders in the league.

The Lakers will likely look to bring in a guard who can give them something on the defensive end.

Matt Barnes is another option for L.A. The forward has spent the last two years in the purple and gold, contributing off the bench.

Re-signing Barnes would give Los Angeles another athletic defender off the bench. Jamison is known for scoring points, while Barnes is known for stopping opponents from scoring.

He made less than $2 million last year, and it wouldn't cost the Lakers much to bring him back. Barnes was probably the team's best bench player in the lockout-shortened season, averaging 7.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists in just 22.9 minutes per game.

Off-the-court issues could give L.A. pause when thinking about signing Barnes. He was arrested in July and faces a felony charge of threatening a police officer.

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