The Los Angeles Lakers have initiated Plan B after Plan A, Dwight Howard, decided to sign with the Houston Rockets. Many fans wondered what the Lakers would do now that their All-Star center bolted Hollywood for Space City.
Today, the first part of Plan B was initiated when they signed veteran center Chris Kaman to a one-year contract, and then used their amnesty clause on Metta World Peace. The Lakers signed Kaman to their mini mid-level exception of just under $3.2 million. Kaman spent last season with the Dallas Mavericks and averaged 10.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in a reserve role off the bench.
Previously, Kaman spent eight years with the Clippers where he became an All-Star in 2010.
Kaman provides some much needed depth to LA’s thin front line. He joins Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, and rookie Ryan Kelly in the frontcourt.
Kaman is obviously no Dwight Howard, but this was a pretty good move with the lack of cap space the Lakers have this off-season. He’s a serviceable player who will help bridge the gap between now and the much anticipated summer of 2014.
The impetus for the one-year contract the Lakers gave Kaman is to make sure they don’t have money tied up for 2014 when they plan to make a run at LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and the rest of the star-studded class of free agents.
Plan B for the Lakers isn’t as immediately satisfying as they will likely struggle to even make the playoffs in a tough Western Conference next season, but as of now the only contract they will have on the books for 2014 is Steve Nash, who signed a three year deal with the team last year.
Using the amnesty on Metta World Peace saved the Lakers $30 million in luxury tax this year, and wipes his $7.7 off the books as well. Kobe Bryant ($30.4 million) and Pau Gasol ($19.2 million) will be off the books next summer as well. While Kobe Bryant is likely to be back with the team, albeit with a pay-cut, Pau Gasol is not.
Realistically, the Lakers could sign two additional max contract guys to go along with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, and they could end up with a decent lottery pick in a stacked 2014 draft class that is being called the deepest since 2003.
I know many Lakers fans are hoping LeBron James bolts Miami for Los Angeles next summer, but that doesn’t seem realistic. I think the Lakers could, however, make a realistic push to bring Carmelo Anthony in to play alongside his good friend Kobe Bryant.
If they could sign back Kobe, and grab Carmelo and possibly Chris Bosh in free agency and then use their first round draft pick on a guy like Michigan’s Mitch McGary; the Lakers would be locked and loaded and ready to challenge for banner #17.
Dwight Howard may have been able to say no to the allure of the Lakers, but not many can, and this dive into the abyss will be short lived as the Lakers are certain to attract another superstar or two to Los Angeles next summer.
Mitch Kupchak has initiated Plan B, and I’m excited to see what all it holds.