Size does matter. Defense wins championships. No matter what flavor of the month the NBA might savor, the aforementioned adages will always ring true.
With that in mind, the two-time defending world champion Los Angeles Lakers signed veteran shot blocker and low post defender extraordinaire Theo Ratliff today. Ratliff, a 15-year vet, agreed to a one year deal at the veteran’s minimum of $1.35-million.
In addition, swingman Matt Barnes is reported to have reached an agreement with the Lakers on a two-year deal worth $3.6-million. The second year of the contract is a player option and should Barnes choose to stay in L.A. beyond 2011 he’ll take home a cool $1.9-million for his troubles.
Barnes, a California native and UCLA alum, brings his high energy game to an already strong bench. Despite his differences with Kobe Bryant, Barnes will be a welcome addition adding versatility and providing the world champions with another perimeter defensive specialist.
Ratliff – nicknamed the Body Snatcher – brings size and a veteran presence to the Laker bench. While he won’t bring much to the table in terms of offense (career average of 7.3 ppg) Ratliff’s shot blocking prowess ranks among the best in the NBA (2.4 swats per game for his career).
Mitch Kupchak touted Ratliff’s defensive abilities and professional demeanor as vital additions to the Lake Show roster.
“Theo has long been considered to be one of the best defensive big men in the league. He is a consummate professional and a welcome addition to our team. Together with Bynum, Gasol, Odom and (Ron) Artest, he gives us a formidable and deep front line.”
Naturally, Ratliff himself is excited about the prospects of participating in a championship run next season.
“I’ve had a long and very rewarding career, and joining a storied and legendary franchise such as the Lakers adds an even more special element. I look forward to playing for Coach (Phil) Jackson … and hopefully to helping the Lakers win a third straight championship.”
With just one roster spot remaining, it would appear that Shannon Brown has played his last game in a Laker uniform. However, the possibility of the Lakers adding one of their two draftees – Derrick Caracter or Devin Ebanks – to the roster still exists.