Ratliff and Barnes Are Joining the Lake Show

It's been an active day for Mitch Kupchak and his efforts to shore up the Lakers' bench. First came news that Theo Ratliff signed a one-year deal to fill the role played by D.J. Mbenga last year. The 37-year-old Ratliff will make the veteran's minimum of $1.37 million. A couple hours later, Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Matt Barnes has agreed to join the Lakers on a two-year, $3.6 million deal. Barnes could've made almost twice that amount if he'd signed with the Cavaliers, but the man wanted to play for a contender and was willing to take a discount for that privilege.

This is a nifty pair of additions for the Lakers. Barnes we discussed in detail earlier today; he gives the team excellent depth at the wing positions and will improve what already promised to be one of the league's elite team defenses. When Ron Artest is off the floor, the drop-off won't be nearly what opponents might've hoped for. Ratliff is ancient and very limited offensively, but he proved with Charlotte last year that he's still an impact defender. His job will be to guard the rim and rebound in Taco Unit minutes while playing a slightly bigger role from time to time when Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum is on the shelf. It's not the sexiest signing ever, but it fills a need. Perhaps most important, it means the team can bring Derrick Caracter along slowly and not press him into action as the emergency backup center.

The Lakers now have 11 players under contract. They have to carry at least 13. Still unsigned are rookies Caracter and Devin Ebanks and free agent Shannon Brown. Shannon can be re-signed under the Bird exception, which isn't affected by the Barnes and Ratliff additions, but it's starting to feel like he's being squeezed out of the team's plans. I hope I'm wrong about that, as with him on board the Laker bench would be that much deeper. Even without him, the reserve unit is going to be significantly better than it was last year.

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Here's the updated depth chart, including players signed or drafted.

 

Starter

2nd String

3rd String

4th String

PG

Fisher

Blake

SG

Bryant

Vujacic

SF

Artest

Barnes

Walton

Ebanks *

PF

Gasol

Odom

Caracter *

C

Bynum

Ratliff

* = Unsigned

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