The Lakers have had plenty of ambiguity to deal with in terms of their minutes at small forward in the days post-Rick Fox. Lamar Odom, Luke Walton and Trevor Ariza all faced obstacles to claiming and keeping their spots at the 3. Ron Artest, before and after his quest for World Peace, wavered between ineffectiveness and excellence while nestled between Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in the line-up. Contributors like Vladimir Radmanovic, Devean George, Matt Barnes and the immortal Jumaine Jones sauntered in and out of the rotation, with the fan base left questioning whether or not these players were worthy of a supporting role on Phil Jackson’s bench.
Entering the 2013-2014 season, Lakers fans everywhere dream about the day that those were the pervading questions revolving around LA’s small forwards. Now, the questions have devolved down to whether or not the team has any legitimate small forwards…at all.
Metta World Peace, a casualty of the amnesty provision, was cut in the offseason largely due to his $7 million dollar contract that would have cost the Lakers potentially triple that amount in luxury taxes. However, as cumbersome as MWP’s contract was compared to his diminishing returns on the court, there’s no doubt that he is still worthy of a spot in most NBA rotations. His departure left the Lakers without any viable in-house options at the 3, especially with Kobe Bryant on the shelf with a torn Achilles. The LA front office thus spent the summer looking for bargain bin swingmen with the limited financial assets they had.
The result is a smorgasbord of reclamation projects, busted lottery picks and anonymous faces, none of which–in my mind, anyway–are particularly inspiring options. Be forewarned Rollers: this is going to be very, very depressing.
(Peep more over at Silver Screen & Roll)