Free Agency Open Thread

ORLANDO FL - FEBRUARY 13: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic drives against Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game at Amway Arena on February 13 2011 in Orlando Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this Photograph user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

With free agent rumors up the wazoo coming through the grapevine, we should have a place to collate and keep track of all your Lakers-relevant material. We will update this thread periodically with the latest news, as well as provide some commentary on the reports themselves.

In this age, using Twitter to keep up with the rumor mill is almost a necessity and if you want to keep up with the latest material, we recommend:

More after the jump:

Naturally, the biggest news is from Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that the Lakers and Magic have opened up discussions about trading for Dwight Howard. We have said this since forever, so it bears repeating since people inevitably forget: there is no chance of making a deal for Howard without an assurance that he will re-sign with the team and thus far, he has shown no willingness to do so. Andrew Bynum is the obvious piece going to the Magic and given the uncertainty with Howard's contract situation and his back injury, it is very doubtful that the Lakers will be willing to pony up anything else.

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ESPNLA's Dave McMenamin has given us a breakdown on the Lakers' search for a starting point guard this offseason, as the team's first action after the onset of free agency was to contact Ramon Sessions' representatives to discuss possibly re-signing him. As any good organization does, however, the Lakers are hedging against the possibility that Sessions will leave, and have as secondary options Chauncey Billups, Kirk Hinrich, and Jameer Nelson.

Billups would be a decent option given his shooting ability and steady floor general status, but you always want to be cautious at players of his age coming off something serious like an Achilles injury. He also can't stay in front of point guards nowadays and might be better trying to check two guards. As for Nelson, he would have more interest if it hadn't been proven conclusively the last few years that his All-Star '08-'09 season was an outlier, and he is largely an accurate sharpshooter and middling defensive player right now. Hinrich is by far the worst of the bunch and is at best, a serviceable backup at this point in his career. Like Billups, he likely would be better as a full-time two guard than attempting to stay in front of points.

Bottom line? Sessions is a better option than the field. He's younger, he can still develop more, and is just as good if not better than the aforementioned three.

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On the cheap, over-the-hill veteran front, Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears reports that the Lakers will be one of the teams interested in Rashard Lewis, who is being waived from the New Orleans Hornets after being dealt there by the Washington Wizards. Lewis would have been a very interesting option a year or two ago, but you have to question whether he has anything left in the tank. You want to think that he was dogging it on a pathetic Wizards team, but a sub-10 PER is pretty epic levels of suck, which most Laker fans can relate to given that those kinds of players constituted most of their rotation. Lewis would definitely constitute a reclamation project for the minimum, but the Lakers haven't had much success with those kinds of players lately (cough) Troy Murphy (cough).

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Getting sharpshooters to fill the rotation is still a very important goal for the Lakers to pursue this offseason, and such a thing is clear in the Lakers' apparent pursuit of both Nick Young and Brandon Rush per the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan. Both are long shots, as Young will likely receive larger offers on the market and Rush is a restricted free agent. Still, they are the kind of players the Lakers' need for their primary stars to operate properly, so the Lakers search is going in the right direction.

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Finally, we have a report from Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, that the Hawks balked at a proposal to trade Josh Smith for Pau Gasol because the Lakers were asking for more pieces to be included in the deal. Now, let us, as always, introduce some caveats. First, it is very early in free agency, so nothing is imminent and front offices are feeling out each other at the moment, especially one with brand new management, as Atlanta general manager Danny Ferry has been on the job for about a week. As such, it doesn't hurt the Lakers to try to sell high on Pau and see if there are other pieces that they can get in the deal. Perhaps Kupchak asked for point guard Jeff Teague or attempted to unload Metta World Peace on the Hawks. There is plenty of time for the Lakers to come back and revisit these discussions if nothing else materializes on the market, noticeably since the Nets and Hawks are currently engaged in talks to bring Joe Johnson to New Jersey.

That is it for now, but check back for updates as free agency continues.

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UPDATE (12:00 AM): Per ESPN's Ric Bucher, Grant Hill, after following in the now rather long line of professional athletes who have gone to Germany to become an immortal vampire get platelet surgery on their knees, is now on the Lakers' wish list. Despite his age, Hill is still a very productive player, likely owing to the fact that the time he has spent away from the game due to injuries has reduced the wear and tear on his body. It is not outlandish to think that he could stick in the league for few more years with the knee procedure. In any case, Hill would constitute a solid backup wing for the Lakers, as he still is a good two-way player. He defends multiple positions well, can handle the ball, shoot from range, and finishes well near the rim. Ignoring the fact that his accuracy from behind the arc cratered last season -- and it looks like an outlier more than anything given how well he shot the ball his previous two seasons in Phoenix -- it would be fair to say that he fulfills basically everything the Lakers want out of their wings.

Mike Bresnahan also reports that the Lakers have also begun to hedge against the possibility that Jordan Hill might sign elsewhere by opening the possibility of acquiring Louis Amundson, who was last with the Pacers. Amundson is your typical energy big who will be around the rim on offense and work hard on defense, but has no range whatsoever and is otherwise highly limited. Needless to say, Hill is a much better option and it is unclear whether Amundson would be a better option than Josh McRoberts, who will be under contract next season.

Finally, this has been the main story for most of the day, but the omnipresent Adrian Wojnarowski spoke with Dwight Howard, who stated that he will only re-sign with one team, and that is the Brooklyn Nets. As noted above, the possibility of the Lakers dealing Bynum for Howard depends on the latter saying that he will stay, and given the pathetically infantile behavior Howard has continued to indulge in, it hardly looks like such a thing is coming.

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