NBA free agency rumors roundup: Wes Johnson will join Lakers, Knicks have options
Though the Los Angeles Lakers lost in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, the franchise is now on a steep track to sign players that fit well into coach Mike D'Antoni's system. It's unclear if that's for better or worse with little financial flexibility.
Late Saturday night, the Los Angeles Times reported the Lakers had reached a one-year, $916,099 agreement with swingman Wesley Johnson, formerly of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns. The move comes shortly after Los Angeles signed another perimeter-oriented scorer in Nick Young, and together it makes sense.
The Lakers don't have a whole lot of money to doll out. The amnesty of small forward Metta World Peace made sense in terms of cost-cutting and Johnson is no where close to World Peace on the defensive end. But both he and Young are arguably better pure jump shooters, even though World Peace has shooting percentages comparable to Johnson's.
With Kobe Bryant sidelined with his Achilles tear for the time being, there will be shots to distribute amongst role players. If the Lakers can spread the floor, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol -- no matter their age -- will be able to find spotup shooters in D'Antoni's offense.
And again, the Lakers didn't have much of a financial choice in signing the 2010 draft's fourth overall pick who averaged 8.0 points and 2.5 rebounds with Phoenix last season.
Knicks like Dalembert
The Dallas Mavericks are the leaders to sign big man Samuel Dalembert and that was the plan all along after the team missed out on center Andrew Bynum, who signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nonetheless, ESPN New York's Jared Zwerling reports the New York Knicks are interested in chasing after Samuel Dalembert, who was most recently with the Milwaukee Bucks
Dalembert would provide depth behind starting center Tyson Chandler, and that's something the Knicks desperately need. Last year's experiment with aging big men didn't go so well. Injuries ate into the depth even though New York had Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace on the roster. At 32 years old, Dalembert is significantly younger than that group.
New York has a mini mid-level exception worth $1.7 million left to use this offseason , which is a bit less than the Mavericks' $3 million they can offer Dalembert.
Do the Knicks go young or old?
According to the New York Post, the Knicks really do want to add frontcourt depth to compete with the likes of the Indiana Pacers, who run with a traditional center and power forward. Kenyon Martin played well last season, but his age and injury history could make him more of a risk. Veteran free agent Al Harrington might be able to add beef and outside scoring ability.
But New York might only need to look at their summer league roster for answers. 22-year-old center Jeremy Tyler, who played in Japan and Israel before stints with the Warriors and Hawks, put up a double-double on Friday and, as Knicks blog Posting and Toasting puts it, was "rowdy," in a good way.
Jeremy Tyler was rowdy as hell. He snaggled rebounds like a fiend and may have actually bitten somebody while playing help defense (five fouls in 23 minutes). His early offense was wild-- like he'd just learned a bunch of moves and was testing all of them all at once-- but he moved well in the open floor and got some buckets later on just by scrapping for inside position and easy put-backs.
Who else can take New York's mini mid-level exception?
Recently amnestied Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace said he will not play in the NBA next season. The Knicks could still be interested in signing him if no other team picks World Peace off waivers by Sunday evening.
He certainly would be in the fold to take up the Knicks' remaining $1.7 million of the mid-level exception, according to the New York Daily News. It just might depend on what the front office wants to shore up the most.
Is it giving Carmelo Anthony a small forward teammate so the NBA's leading scorer from 2012-13 can continue to play much of his time at power forward? Is it signing a big man like Dalembert or fellow Dallas target Brandan Wright? Or will the Knicks be able to get a relative deal on a guard like Nate Robinson, a former Knick who is coming off a big year in Chicago?
Veterans seek jobs
Count 30-year-old Chris Wilcox as one veteran unwilling to give up on his NBA career. The former Boston Celtics forward underwent surgery for an enlarged aorta in 2012 and never got into proper playing shape in 2012-13. Playing in 61 games for the Celtics, it's unlikely the big man returns to a rebuilding project in Boston, but he told the Boston Globe that he wants to continue his career.
Another name that might've been forgotten this free agency period is Rasual Butler. Most well known for his deadly three-point shooting with the Miami Heat and New Orleans Hornets, the 34-year-old joined the Indiana Pacers summer league squad and is still on the job hunt.
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