Finally, The Machine has come back to Los Angeles

By Jason Wojciechowski on July 26, 2008 at 12:45 AM

That's right, Sasha Vujacic is back. This is good news, even if you can't really be happy with the Lakers having to pay $5 million a year for Vujacic's services. The Press-Enterprise says that the deal is a compromise between a 3-year, $12 million offer from the Lakers and a 4-year $24 million request from the Lakers.

Reed at Forum Blue and Gold posted on Sasha earlier today, before this news came out, and he made some interesting points. First, guys like Daniel Gibson, Jason Kapono, and Mickael Pietrus have been getting 4- and 5-year deals despite lower PER's than Sasha's. Second, and this may be a bit of a surprise, the single most efficient offensive unit in basketball last year was Farmar + Sasha + Kobe + Lamar + Pau. Not only did that unit score 1.37 points per possession, but it only allowed .99. That means that every five Laker possessions with that squad on the floor was resulting in a four-point lead. That's preposterous. So you can see why it was important for the Lakers to resign Vujacic.

On the flip side, as Reed also points out, Jerry Buss has a limited budget. Basically, the signing of Vujacic means the end of spending for the Lakers. With eleven guys under contract, and Coby Karl presumably being #12, the Lakers still have one or two (probably two) spots to fill. L.A. is probably still short a big man, given that Chris Mihm, while professing his health, has too long an injury history to be fully trusted. But that big man and the 14th spot will have to be filled by spending the veteran's minimum, most likely, which probably means DJ Mbenga or maybe someone like Randolph Morris, but probably not Carl Landry, Adonal Foyle, or Francisco Elson. Maybe this bodes well for Joe Crawford, though, who might now make the team while spending the year in the D-League and inactive on the L.A. roster.

And what about Sun Yue? If Mitch Kupchak wants to bring him over, will Buss let him given the state of the payroll? Presumably Yue isn't coming for Karl-type money, especially when it's Karl-type money to play in the D-League.

So I've updated the free agent watch list below, but I've added a new marker -- I've put italics around any players I think are probably out of L.A.'s reach, price-wise. I guess we should also recognize that the 14th spot is likely to be filled with a guy not on this list, someone we've never heard of, perhaps one of the bigs who played either the Lakers' Vegas League team or someone else's team.

  • Ronny Turiaf -- four years, $17 million, Golden State
  • James Posey -- Hornets, four years, $25 million
  • DJ Mbenga -- waiting for the phone to ring, I'm sure
  • Corey Maggette -- five years, $50 million, Golden State
  • Sun Yue -- Kupchak wants to bring him over, but no word yet on a deal
  • Kurt Thomas -- San Antonio
  • Brent Barry -- two years, $3.9 million, Houston
  • Craig Smith -- two-year deal to return to Minnesota
  • Carl Landry -- qualifying offer extended by Houston
  • Walter Herrmann -- big European money on the table? back to Detroit?
  • Randolph Morris -- Atlanta?
  • Kwame Brown -- Bucks, Heat, Hawks apparently interested
  • Eduardo Najera -- undisclosed deal with the Nets
  • Juwan Howard -- ?
  • Robert Horry -- not retiring; Spurs or Rockets?
  • Francisco Elson -- Denver, New Jersey, Seattle, Charlotte, Lakers; Miami?
  • Theo Ratliff -- back to Detroit?
  • Adonal Foyle -- back to Orlando?
  • Quinton Ross -- with Brand gone, maybe the Clippers bring him back, but everyone is interested, including Phoenix, Orlando, New Jersey?
  • Bostjan Nachbar -- Russia, three years, nine million Euros
  • Dorell Wright -- qualifying offer from Miami
  • Sasha Vujacic -- resigned for $15 million over three years
  • Patrick O'Bryant -- two years, $3 million, Celtics
  • David Harrison -- Denver?
  • Chris Andersen -- Denver, one year, $1 million
  • Primoz Brezec -- Virtus Roma, Euroleague
  • Jorge Garbajosa -- two-year deal in Russia