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07-02-2003, 10:19 AM
Lakers to target power forwards
By Terry Brown
NBA Insider
Wednesday, July 2
Updated: July 2
11:09 AM ET

The next starting power forward for the Los Angeles Lakers may not be able to score and rebound like free agent Tim Duncan or possess the upside of free agent Jermaine O'Neal, but if he can walk, talk and chew gum at the same time, then their limited money will be well spent.

Let's start at the beginning. Well, the beginning of the Lakers' search for a legitimate power forward to go alongside Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

On March 19, 1999, the Lakers, having yet to win an NBA Championship with Shaq and Kobe on the roster, traded power forward Elden Campbell, along with all star Eddie Jones, to the Charlotte Hornets for small forward Glen Rice. Of course, they went on to win the NBA Title the very next season, while Campbell averaged 15.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game for the Hornets on 49 percent shooting in 1999, as well as the next two. But this is how the position has been manned since:

A.C. Green
2000 Season: 5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 44 percent

Horace Grant
2001 Season: 8.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting 46 percent

Samaki Walker
2002 Season: 6.7 points and 7 rebounds per game while shooting 46 percent

Robert Horry
2003 Season: 6.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while shooting 38 percent

In other words, over the last four seasons, the starting power forward at the end of each season contributed, on average, only 6 percent of the team's scoring and 14.6 percent of the team's rebounding.

Those aren't exactly hard shoes to fill.

Tim Duncan, for example on the opposite extreme, averaged 23.3 points and 12.9 rebounds per game while leading the Spurs to this year's NBA Title. During the season, he contributed 24.3 percent of his team's points and 30.2 percent of his team's rebounds.

But that Lakers can't even begin to hope to write in Duncan's name on their starting roster. Or even Jermaine O'Neal, who contributed 21.4 percent of the Indiana Pacers' points and 23 percent of their rebounds. Or even restricted free agent Elton Brand, who contributed 19.7 percent the Clippers points and 26 percent of their rebounds.

But even with their exceptions of $4.8M and $1.7M, or, maybe, in spite of them, process of elimination says they'll get some power forward better than they've had in a long time with the opportunity to vastly improve the position under these unique circumstances.

Here are the top possibilities along with their percentage of contribution for their respective teams:

Karl Malone: 21.7 percent of Jazz points and 18.7 percent of rebounds
Juwan Howard: 21.8 percent of Nuggets points and 17.9 percent of rebounds
PJ Brown: 11.3 percent of Hornets points and 20 percent of rebounds

An interesting, albeit controversial, selection would be Derrick Coleman who contributed only 9 percent of the Sixers points and 16 percent of their rebounds during the regular season but boosted his numbers to 14.7 percent of their points and 19 percent of their rebounds during the playoffs.

An ironic twist might have the Lakers bringing Elden Campbell back into the fold. Last season, he was traded to the Seattle Sonics and wound up on the bench contributing only 3 percent of their points and 6 percent of their rebounds. But in his last season as a starter in Charlotte, in 2002, he contributed 14.8 percent of their points and 15.8 percent of their rebounds.

From Duncan to Campbell, that's eight legitimate power forwards with fewer under-the-cap teams able to offer anything more than the mid- level exception to the entire free agent pool that also includes Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning, Gilbert Arenas, Lamar Odom, etcetera.

Or, the Lakers could continue their recent tradtion and re-sign Horace Grant who played in five games last season for the Orlando Magic and averaged 5.2 points and 1.6 rebounds per game on 52 percent shooting and hope they don't step in any gum.

07-03-2003, 10:36 AM
I think howard is the perfect fit in LA LA land. Hes used to being the third wheel he did it in dallas. And would be a huge upgrade over samaki walker and mark madsen.

07-03-2003, 03:05 PM
yeah, howard does make a lot of sense for la.