|It's better than a poke in the eye. (Getty Images)|
As they wait for Steve Nash and Steve Blake to return to action, guys like Darius Morris and Chris Duhon are being asked to set up Jodie Meeks, Metta World Peace, and allegedly the ghost of Devin Ebanks on the perimeter. Bryant is supposed to be able to trust these wing players and hope they help stretch the floor for him, so he can operate easier within the flow of the offense. The reality is the Lakers are asking guys like World Peace and Meeks to do things outside their skill set.
The Laker formerly known as Ron Artest is being asked to make open shots and defend. He has a reputation for one of those. Since Mike D'Antoni took over, World Peace has shot the long-ball incredibly well by going 8 of 19 (42.1 percent) from 3-point range. Meeks has made five of his last 11 3-point shots in the past two games to raise his 3-point percentage on the season to 30.3 percent. He's also not a lockdown defender by any means.
It's possible the Lakers' wings keep up this recent play over the course of the season, but it's better to have versatility and options in case they don't. According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, Los Angeles is looking into just that:
With the hiring of Mike D'Antoni as coach, the Los Angeles Lakers are showing a renewed interest in trying to find a way to sign exiled Utah Jazz guard Raja Bell once his contract buyout is completed, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Raja Bell is 19th all-time in 3-point percentage at 40.56 percent and has a reputation for being a very solid defender, even in the twilight of his career. He made 39.1 percent of his 3-pointers for Utah last season.
Mickael Pietrus is definitely a defensive presence on the wing, often drawing tough assignments last season while with the Boston Celtics. When he was in a heavy 3-point shooting system like what he played in with Orlando, he made 37.3 percent of his long-range shots.
Both players would certainly help the Lakers have more stability on the wings and give D'Antoni options in his system without giving up much of what he needs his wing players to do. The problem is the Lakers are already at 15 players on their roster and would have to complete a trade or waive players to make room for one or both of these candidates.
The easiest way to release players would be to buy out the contracts of Duhon ($3.5 million this season, only $1.5 million guaranteed for next season), Earl Clark (one year left at $1.2 million), Ebanks (one year left at just over $1 million), or Darius Johnson-Odom (non-guaranteed deal for this season).