Sports Out West

Lakers news: Jim Buss says new free agents fit Mike D’Antoni’s system

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Los Angeles Lakers executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss joined Watch ESPN’s broadcast of the Las Vegas Summer League game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday and shed some light on the thinking behind the Lakers’ offseason moves thus far.After losing Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets, they had a backup plan, and he didn’t mince words in explaining what the Lakers are trying to do for the upcoming season with their personnel. 

Buss spoke candidly about the Lakers’ intent to find players that can fit the schemes of head coach Mike D’Antoni. Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Farmar are the free agents the Lakers have signed with one-year deals to fill out their roster with the departures of Metta World Peace, Earl Clark and Howard. 

“This is the first year we’ve had D’Antoni. He came in at the beginning of the season last year unfortunately with Mike Brown leaving,” he said on the broadcast. “We’ve had the time to start picking players that fit his system a little bit better, and I think Kaman is a perfect fit.”  

That system is one that relies heavily on perimeter shooting and an uptempo style of play with heavy ball movement to create easy shots. Players who run the floor, are athletic and can shoot from mid-range to beyond the arc are placed at a premium because of it. 

Kaman is a player who can stretch the floor and knock down those mid-range jump shots on a pick-and-pop as well as score inside off screen-and-roll action. Howard was reluctant to embrace such an offense, and it’s widely believed that one of his reasons for leaving the Lakers is due to his dissatisfaction with the offense and D’Antoni. 

Another great need the Lakers had after last season was perimeter defense. They lacked the youth and athleticism to keep up with the best ball-handlers in the league. It showed in their opponents’ ability to get through the first level and into the interior for frequent easy looks. With Johnson, Young and Farmar, the Lakers added veterans who are still young enough to be an upgrade in that regard. 

Buss had particularly good things to say about Young, who like himself, is a former USC Trojan.  

“He can shoot the lights out,” Buss said of Young. “We need shooters, especially in this system. He’s very athletic, can sprint the floor — another one that fits D’Antoni’s system perfectly. 

While Young is a relatively known commodity, Johnson managed to impress and surprise Lakers brass when he worked out for them and could be a hidden gem. 

“Wesley Johnson, he came and worked out for us and he was sensational. He couldn’t miss a shot. You can see how long he is and athletic, another guy that fits the system… D’Antoni likes the kid a lot, he’s going to develop him. We might have a little sleeper there.”

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.