Although the ‘09 NBA free agent class isn’t as stacked as in years past — not to mention the League is being more thrifty than ever due to the slumping economy — teams still have holes they want to plug, and players have moves they want to make. As the negotiation period gets underway (players can’t officially sign until July 8), we’re breaking down each team’s free agent situation…
G – Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Sasha Vujacic, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, Sun Yue
F – Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza, Luke Walton, Josh Powell, Adam Morrison, Chinemelu Elonu
C – Andrew Bynum, DJ Mbenga
Odom, Ariza, Brown (R)
Everyone knows what the champs want to do this summer: re-sign Odom and Ariza, and Brown to a less-urgent extent. All three players said during the post-championship party circuit that they want to come back, but ultimately, money is gonna talk — and the Lakers don’t have a lot of it to spread around.
L.A. has the second-highest payroll in the League, and while there was some thought that Kobe might opt-out of his contract and take a pay cut to help keep the title roster intact, Kobe decided to opt-in for his $23 million salary next season.
As a restricted FA, Brown won’t be too tough to re-sign. Odom can command more money on the market than Ariza, plus Ariza is from L.A., so he’s more inclined to grant a hometown discount. If the Lakers keep Ariza and lose Odom, they still have a solid front line led by Gasol and Bynum, but may want to grab a clearance-rack free agent big man to provide depth given Bynum’s struggles. Maybe a vet who’s desperately looking for a ring is the answer.
L.A. could use the mid-level exception and try to lure Ron Artest or Jason Kidd their way, but from his offseason interviews, it sounds like GM Mitch Kupchak isn’t trying to shake up the roster too much.
PF – Pops Mensah-Bonsu (R), Ike Diogu, Malik Rose, Sean Marks, Melvin Ely, Josh McRoberts (R), Juwan Howard
C – Theo Ratliff, Adonal Foyle, Shelden Williams, Jamaal Magloire, Chris Mihm