This is the time of year to write about a list of problems with the Los Angeles Lakers–a long list. One item on the list is the lack of available funds to fill a beleaguered roster, after possibly signing Dwight Howard to a max-contract. Forget the problems, what’s the solution?
Here are 3 low-budget players the Lakers should sign to help bolster their roster.
*All information about contract info is believed to be correct, but I am not an NBA Insider or GM. Any additional fact checking is appreciated*
Gary Neal–Shooting Guard, San Antonio Spurs
Gary Neal has been a thorn in many teams’ sides in the Western Conference, and 1 team in the Eastern Conference after Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Neal put up 24 points on 6-10 shooting from 3 point land. He is set to be a restricted free agent after the Finals, and currently makes about $850K this year. The Spurs would have the ability to match any offer the Lakers make. Neal would be for the Lakers what Jodie Meeks was supposed to be. He shoots a high percentage, and knows how to play good team defense and basketball.
As an undrafted player on the Spurs, it’s tough to evaluate how much of Neal’s successes are his own or a product of San Antonio and Greg Popovich‘s system. The Spurs have obviously coached him up and would have reason to re-sign him. But a few years ago Roger Mason Jr. came onto scene as the Spurs sharp shooter, and he’s now a free agent after 2 seasons in New Orleans. Gary Neal would be a bargain in a reserve role in the backcourt with either Steve Blake or Nash.
Chase Budinger–Small Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves
Chase Budinger made $885K with the Timberwolves last season, but is a restricted free agent this offseason. He is exactly the type of player the Lakers should target. Budinger is from San Diego, and before he was ever well known nationally as a basketball player, he was known as one of the best volleyball players in the country. He can jump out of the gym, which is not something you expect from someone who looks more like Brian Scalabrine than Lebron James. He appeared in the dunk contest 2 seasons ago.
Injuries are a concern for Budinger, and the Lakers have enough issues in that department that they cannot afford any new signings to be injury inclined. He only played 23 games for Minnesota, and 58 in his last of 3 seasons with Houston. But he has averaged nearly 10 points a game in all 4 years in the league. Given the lack of affordable, effective players available, Budinger should have many suitors. After spending years in Tucson, Houston, and Minneapolis, the SoCal native drafted in the second round could come home for his 5th season in the NBA if Minnesota doesn’t match an offer sheet.
Justin Holiday–Shooting Guard, Philadelphia 76ers
The older brother of 76ers All Star Jrue Holiday is hardly a sexy signing. He spent almost all of this season playing for the D League affiliate in Idaho. He averaged almost 20 points and shot over 40% from the field. He has the ability to score but that’s not his biggest attribute. I watched Holiday regularly play for the University of Washington, and in all 4 years it was his ball hawking defense and length at 6’6” which make him valuable. He weighs as much as a sandwich, but he adds energy and youth to the backcourt, much like Earl Clark did in the front court. Holiday was not the best player on any of his UW squads, but his teammates Isaiah Thomas and Quincy Pondexter have been successful pros in their young careers.
At the close of the season Justin was on a 10 day contract playing alongside his brother. After watching him play this season, Cody Williams at Rant Sports doesn’t think the 76ers should re-sign Holiday.
In the nine appearances that Justin Holiday made for the 76ers this season he played 15.8 minutes per game and averaged just 4.7 points, 1.7 assists and 1.6 rebounds per game. The worst part about his game is the fact that he shot just 33.3 percent from the field and just 25 percent from long distance. He rarely put up numbers and he did so inefficiently.
Holiday has a non guaranteed contract, so the 76ers have a date in early in July they have to make him an offer by, and I hope they don’t do Jrue a solid and re-sign him. His 9 game performance is noteworthy, but it wouldn’t dissuade me from offering Holiday a summer contract to see how he performs, all the while with the intention of Holiday playing a reserve role with the Lakers next season. He is from LA, and his larger body of work indicates he is an effective player.