Kenneth Faried

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Report: Kenneth Faried signing in China

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Kenneth Faried is one of the best free agents available.

But apparently not for long.

Jeff Goodman of Stadium:

Emiliano Carchia of Sportando:

A full-season NBA minimum contract would’ve paid Faried $2,320,044. With those varying reported Chinese salaries, it’s unclear whether Faried comes out ahead or behind. For that matter, it’s unclear whether he had an NBA offer.

Faried, 29, is a good pick-and-roll finisher and rebounder. But he has major defensive holes. Few teams need another big.

The roster landscape could change after the trade deadline, though. Maybe Faried will sign in the NBA once the Chinese season ends.

Seven veteran free agents that could help teams now

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Cuts have been made and NBA rosters are set for the start of the season. Optimism abounds around the league.

However, it will only take a couple of weeks before glaring holes are exposed, injuries inevitably hit, and some GMs are scrambling to repair their rosters get their team back on track.

That’s where these veterans come in. Here are seven guys that can step in and help a team right now. They’re flawed players (or they wouldn’t still be free agents), but they’re names that will pop up once teams start scrambling in the coming weeks and months.

1) Iman Shumpert

Wing is a position of need around the NBA, and wing defenders in particular are in demand. While everyone knows Shumpert is not the peak defender he once was, he can still provide some solid play on the perimeter. Shumpert shot 34.8 percent last season, played in eight of the Rockets’ playoff games, and continues to be a respectable role player. The Grizzlies and Bulls are reportedly interested in Shumpert.

2) Jamal Crawford

Crawford may be 39 but he can still get some buckets off the bench. No doubt the three-time Sixth Man of the Year has slowed in recent years, and his defense is an issue, but the man still averaged 7.9 points per game last season off the bench and lit it up for the depleted Suns at the end of last season. He’s also improved the playmaking aspect of his game. Some team is going to turn to him for bench scoring.

3) Joakim Noah

He’s the best big man still on the board, and a guy the Lakers seriously considered until Dwight Howard convinced members of the staff there he is is a changed man. Noah had a good run the second half of last season with the Grizzlies — 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds a night, plus solid defense in the paint, playing more than 16 minutes a game — which showed he can still help a team out.

4) J.R. Smith

Cleveland waived Smith in a cost-cutting move, the Bucks quickly talked to him, but since then nothing has materialized. Smith is 34 and his skills are in decline, including shooting just 30.8 percent from three last season, but it’s too early to write him off. In the right situation, he could help a team off the bench with veteran play. Just don’t have him on the floor to close NBA Finals games anymore.

5) Kenneth Faried

When Clint Capela was out injured for the Rockets last season, Faried stepped in and played well — he averaged 12.9 points per game on 58.7 percent shooting in 25 games for the Rockets. He’s just 29, and he can be counted on to get buckets. What he can’t be counted on to do is defend very well, which is why no team has snapped him up (and why he fell out of the Rockets’ rotation last season). Still, he can bring energy off the bench for a team.

6) Corey Brewer

He came off the bench for the Kings at the end of last season, in a very limited role, and while he had a workout with the Rockets, Brewer has not found a new home. Wings are in demand, and Brewer would be a good fit for a team that likes to get out and run (he’s at his best in transition), but the fact he struggles as a shooter from three has teams hesitant. Still, once the season starts, don’t be surprised if some team picks Brewer up.

7) Carmelo Anthony

The reason he is on this list is his poor defense. Teams have questions about his willingness to play a role, the number of midrange jumpers he takes, his efficiency, how he would be a big story wherever he lands, and how the game has moved away from ‘Melo’s style of play, but in the end his defense remains the biggest stumbling block to landing on a new team. That said, nobody questions his talent or that he can still get buckets. If a team believes he will take a role off the bench, he could be a good pickup.

Lakers reportedly doing ‘due diligence’ in talking to Dwight Howard

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The Lakers were going to lean heavily on DeMarcus Cousins this season. Los Angeles has arguably the best center in the game today in Anthony Davis, but he is not built for nor does he want to play 30+ minutes a night banging away down in the post. Davis wants to face up, run the floor, and play most of his minutes at the four next to a more traditional center, then slide over in key matchups and situations. Cousins was going to be that center (he and Davis have some chemistry from their time together in New Orleans).

Now Cousins is almost certainly lost for the season with a torn ACL, and the Lakers are left looking through the guys other teams have yet to sign to try to find a Cousins replacement. There are not a lot of good options, which is why the Lakers wisely plan to take their time and look at everyone.

Dwight Howard is part of that process. While the Howard camp may be excited about the prospect of returning and gaining redemption in Los Angeles, for the Lakers this is more about part of the process, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Again, as with all of free agency, when you read about a sourced story (about Howard and the Lakers for example), think about who benefits from it being public and telling a reporter about it. Think about the reporter’s connections. Shelburne is very well connected to the Laker organization, for example.

The Lakers absolutely need to take a long look at Howard. After he left Los Angeles, Howard eventually found a groove as a quality NBA center. From the 2015-16 to 2017-18 seasons, Howard averaged 13+ points and 12 rebounds a night, was a big body on defense, and played at least 71 games in all of those seasons at about 30 minutes a night. Exactly the kind of player the Lakers could use right now. However, Howard played just nine games for the Wizards last season following another back surgery and some hamstring issues. He was not healthy.

The Lakers have to decide how healthy Howard is and would he be able to bounce back to the level he was in those previous three seasons? Even if he can, is he a better option than Joakim Noah, who impressed a lot of people around the league with his solid 41 games for Memphis the second half of last season? What about Kenneth Faried?

Los Angeles has a lot to consider. Howard should be part of that mix, but don’t expect a quick decision here. The Lakers have almost a month until training camp opens and are not in a rush, they want to get this right.

Lakers reportedly interested in Dwight Howard as possible Boogie Cousins replacement

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DeMarcus Cousins was a big part of the Lakers’ plans this season, but he is now out until next year with a torn ACL.

That leaves a big hole at center — the Lakers don’t want to play Anthony Davis extended minutes at the five — so the Lakers are looking at the free agent center market. Which is pretty slim.

One guy they want to talk to is former Laker Dwight Howard, currently on the Grizzlies roster (but expected to be bought out), reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The first question to think about here: Who benefits from this report being out there? I’m in no way questioning the validity of the report — Charania is one of the best-connected reporters around the NBA — but things are told/leaked to media members with perception and spin in mind. In this case, who benefits from this being out there? Draw your own conclusions, it’s just something to consider.

Howard’s last time in a Laker jersey did not exactly go well. In the same way the Titanic’s maiden voyage did not exactly go well. Howard rushed his return from back surgery to join a perceived superteam (with Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant) but never got healthy and right, and it showed on the court. Plus, Howard’s “I want to have fun, joke around, and eat Skittles” approach to the game at that time clashed with Kobe’s “I am Batman” approach. Howard became the scapegoat in Los Angeles for a disaster of a season.

Some Lakers fans will not want to hear this but… Howard is not a bad option to seriously consider. For the three seasons, from 2015-16 to 2017-18 Howard was a solid, above-average NBA center, who efficiently averaged low 13+ points and 12 rebounds a night, plus was a big body on defense. Most importantly, he played at least 71 games in all of those seasons, he was healthy and reliable. Not great, certainly nothing near the Defensive Player of the Year and perennial MVP candidate he was early in his career (the guy the Lakers thought they were getting the first time around), but a solid NBA big who could play 28-30 minutes a night. Exactly the kind of player the Lakers could use right now.

However, Howard played just nine games for the Wizards last season following another back surgery and some hamstring issues. He was not healthy. The Lakers have to seriously assess Howard’s health because both LeBron James and Davis are going to get plenty of DNP-Rest nights and the Lakers need role players they can count on to absorb minutes. Can Howard be that guy? Do the Lakers want to bet he can be?

Joakim Noah, who has had his health issues but impressed a lot of people around the league with his solid 41 games for Memphis the second half of last season, also is mentioned in the report. Noah is a free agent, brings a defensive mindset, is a good passer, and will not demand touches on the offensive end.

Also on the free-agent market is Kenneth Faried, who played well for 25 games in Houston last season when Clint Capela was out. Faried hustles, can get buckets (he averaged 12 points a game with the Rockets) but is not much of a defender at this point in his career.

Now what for Lakers after DeMarcus Cousins injury?

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“He was going to be a big part of what we’re going to do.”

Laker forward Kyle Kuzma summed it up well when asked about DeMarcus Cousins tearing his ACL during an off-season workout in Las Vegas this week. The Lakers were counting on a bounce-back season from Cousins — for him to play more like the guy from Game 2 of the NBA Finals against Toronto when he was vital to a Warriors win — because it would take some of the burden off of just-acquired Anthony Davis.

Make no mistake, Davis is the best center the Lakers have — he is arguably the best center in the game  (two seasons ago he was the First Team All-NBA center). However, Davis is not built like Joel Embiid and does not want to bang in the post for 30 minutes a night, he wants to play more at the four, face-up, run and space the floor, and play next to a traditional center (then slide to the five in certain situations/lineups, not unlike how the Warriors use Draymond Green at the five).

Cousins was to be that traditional center, and he already had chemistry with Davis from the time they played together in New Orleans.

Now, considering all his body has been through, it’s almost certain Cousins will miss the entire upcoming NBA season.

“I’m devastated for DeMarcus…” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “Injuries are a part of the game, but you are talking about a player who has now dealt with the two most feared injuries for NBA players — the Achilles and ACL — each knocking you out for an entire season… It’s unheard of.”

For Cousins, it means another year of hard-work rehab. It’s a grind that will understandably wear on him.

For the Lakers… the options are not pretty.

There is nobody readily available who can provide near the level of production they hoped to get from Cousins.

The Lakers are not going to make Davis play the five more — he does not want to, and while it’s a longshot he leaves as a free agent next summer he still has that leverage and the Lakers want and need to keep him happy.

So who are the Lakers best options? Right now they have JaVale McGee as a traditional center and that’s it. Remember, they also only have a minimum contract to offer.

The name that bounced around as speculation at the Lakers practice facility (where Team USA practiced this week) was Joakim Noah. The veteran played solidly last season in Memphis after New York wanted him out, and with the Grizzlies he played respectable defense while scoring 7.1 points a game on 51.6 percent shooting. Noah also is a good passer and smart player. He would fit with their veteran mindset, if LeBron James signed off on bringing Noah in.

Nene also is available as a free agent, but at age 37 he showed considerable decline the past couple of seasons in Houston. Marcin Gortat is another option here, he showed a decline at age 35 last season, but at this point the Lakers can’t be too picky. If the Lakers want a good pick-and-roll big, Salah Mejri has been that for Dallas in recent years.

The best available free agent is the Manimal, Kenneth Faried. He is 29 years old, always plays hard, and averaged 12.9 points per game on 58.7 percent shooting in 25 games for the Rockets last season after joining them mid-January. He picked up the slack until Clint Capela returned from injury, but once that happened Faried fell out of the rotation. The main reason for that, and for his limited playoff role, is that Faried is not much of a defender anymore. But he can get buckets.

Another name — one that sends shivers down the spines of Lakers fans — is Dwight Howard. He was traded to Memphis this summer for C.J. Miles and is expected to be bought out. If/when that happens, he has played solidly in recent years. When healthy. And that’s the bigger concern, Howard played just nine games for the Wizards last season. On a team where both LeBron and Davis are going to get a lot of nights off, the Lakers need role players they can count on to absorb minutes, and Howard is just not that guy.

The Lakers could look to the trade market — guys such as Nerlens Noel could eventually become available, Detroit may listen to offers for Christian Wood — however, Los Angeles does not have a lot to give up in a deal.

Bottom line, the options for the Lakers are not good. While the loss of Cousins does not take them out of contender status, it makes reaching their potential that much harder. The margin for error has shrunk again.

They will need to add someone at center, but at this point it’s a case of holding their nose and taking whatever they see as the best fit.