Philadelphia's Jodie Meeks celebrates after making a basket during… (Suchat Pederson / Associated…)
How will the Lakers fill out the rest of their bench?
It's possible the answer lies with Devin Ebanks, Jodie Meeks or both.
Whoever it is, the Lakers hope they can find a backcourt player who could reduce Kobe Bryant's minutes and provide needed outside shooting. Meeks, a Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard, could fill that description since the 25-year-old shot in the high 30% range in the past two seasons. Meeks' agent, David Bauman, said Meeks is on the Lakers' radar and that of "four or five" other unspecified teams. But Bauman also added Meeks' interest with the Lakers could hinge on a significant variable.
"We're happy to talk, but we're not talking minimum for a guy like Jodie," Bauman told The Times in a phone interview on Monday. "He'll get more than the minimum wherever he signs."
The Lakers have a mini mid-level exception worth $3 million, but General Manager Mitch Kupchak said on July 25 that it's unlikely they'll use it unless there's "credible value." The Lakers were hoping to add players only at the veteran's minimum worth $1.5 million, an option veteran forward Antawn Jamison chose despite making $15.1 million last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Meeks aso recorded strong marks last season from the free-throw line (90.6%). Sixers Coach Doug Collins has praised him for his work ethic and amiable personality. Synergy Sports Technology also reveals that he's a better defender than meets the eye. He has earned on average $750,000 in the past three season. Still, Meeks' shooting numbers dipped to 31% in the second half of the season and he only played 7.8 minutes off the bench in the postseason.
Interestingly enough, Meeks' future could have an indirect effect on one of Bauman's other clients in Ebanks. Bauman told The Times on July 10 that Ebanks would accept the Lakers' qualifying offer worth a one-year deal for a little over $1 million. But Bauman said Monday that Ebanks and the Lakers reached a mutual agreement not to sign for multiple reasons. Ebanks suffered a bone bruise in one of his knees, which would keep him sidelined during Summer League. Bauman wanted to avoid Ebanks' possibly being thrown in as an extra player should the Lakers make a trade. Kupchak, meanwhile, told ESPN Los Angeles he wanted the extra roster space in case the Lakers took extra players in a trade.
"He's been playing in the gym and acting as if he's a Laker," Bauman said of Ebanks, who averaged four points on 41.6% shooting in 16.5 minutes per game. "I don't see any issues with that.... Devin's planning on being a key contributor to the Lakers."
The Lakers have 12 players under contract -- Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Andrew Bynum, Steve Nash, Jamison, Jordan Hill, Steve Blake, Darius Morris, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga and Andrew Goudelock. But the Lakers aren't obligated to keep Goudelock because they have a team option on him. The Lakers are also not expected to re-sign free agent Matt Barnes or Troy Murphy. Two weeks ago, Kupchak stayed noncommittal on keeping second-round draft pick sDarius Johnson-Odom and Robert Sacre.
All NBA teams can have up to a 15-man roster, although only 12 players can dress for a game.
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