Top 5 Lakers Offseason Moves
Take a break from round-the-clock LeBron James coverage and check out the Top 5 moves the Lakers made this summer.
1. Retaining Phil Jackson
Retaining the best coach in NBA history was easily the most important move the Lakers made this offseason. Without him they'd still be title contenders. With him, they're obvious favorites. The rings speak for themselves on that one -- Phil has 11 of them, two more than Red Auerbach. Forget about Coach of the Year awards. No coach means more to his team than Phil means to the Lakers. Health concerns and talks of a pay cut were enough for him to hold out for a month, but a doctor's blessing -- not to mention the glowing promise of a fourth three-peat -- was enough to lure Phil back to the bench, much to the relief of Kobe Bryant and Co.
2. Re-signing Derek Fisher
Pat Riley and the Heat flirted with Fisher harder than anyone since Mrs. Fisher, but in the end D-Fish picked L.A. It's easy to see why. The opportunity to chase a sixth championship, play alongside Kobe Bryant and earn $10.5 million over three years at the age of 36 doesn't come along every day. You might say the Lakers overpaid for the aging point guard, but his value to the Lakers goes beyond stats. He's the undisputed leader of the team, and he has come up clutch for them time after time in the playoffs. Bringing him back is a major piece to the three-peat puzzle.
3. Bringing in Steve Blake
Lakers fans with a soft spot for Jordan Farmar likely hate this move, but ultimately it makes the Lakers a better team. One of Farmar's biggest weaknesses was ball control. He struggled to get by opposing guards, which led to increased turnovers when he was in the game. Blake will be the opposite. He had a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio last season, compared to 1.8:1 for Farmar. Blake is also a more reliable free throw shooter, which gives the Lakers increased lineup flexibility down the stretch, and his shooting percentages are nearly identical to Farmar's; so the Lakers won't be losing anything in that regard. On top of that, Blake signed for the same amount per year ($4 million) as Farmar did with the Nets, which means the Lakers upgraded at backup point guard without adding dollars to the payroll. Pretty good deal if you ask me.
4. Snagging Matt Barnes From the Raptors
Barnes was in line for the first big payday of his career (he reportedly had a two-year, $10 million offer on the table from the Raptors) but negotiations with Toronto hit a snag and the Lakers were able to scoop him up at the bargain price of two years, $3.6 million. The move gives the Lakers a low-priced alternative to Luke Walton at small forward. It also ups their toughness factor--Barnes is one of the most heated competitors in the league--and continues the trend of adding former Kobe haters to the mix. Anyone who goes toe-to-toe with Kobe seems to automatically be in line for a contract with the Lakers the following summer. This is getting ridiculous. I mean, who's next? Raja Bell? Oh wait...
5. Drafting Derrick Caracter
A 6-foot-9 big man who weighs nearly three bills and bounced around from school to school during his college career hardly seems like a top acquisition, but it looks like Derrick Caracter will work out just fine with the Lakers. The 58th overall pick stood out during Summer League play, using his smarts and post skills to shoot to No. 3 on NBA.com's rookie ladder. He won't be a star or anything, but Caracter's polish inside makes him a valuable asset off the bench. Adding him and veteran center Theo Ratliff upgrades the Lakers' front court depth, making the departure of fan favorite Josh Powell a little less painful.
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