Kirk Hinrich: Why He May Be the Best Free Agent the LA Lakers’ Money Can Buy

The Los Angeles Lakers' $91 million payroll was the NBA's highest last season, but due to the new developments in the league's labor saga, the Lakers' days of freely spending big money to acquire elite talent may be coming to an end.

The players' decision to disband their union cast an even darker cloud over the diminishing hopes for a season, and although no one can be certain of what lies ahead in the coming weeks, one thing is obviously clear.

Whenever the games do begin, the players will likely be forced to accept a lesser deal than the final one they rejected, and the deal might just include a hard, no frills salary cap.

In a hard cap scenario, current deals would probably be grand-fathered in, but it would throw a damper on teams hoping to cash in on the free agency bonanza of 2012.

Orlando center Dwight Howard and point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams are the cream of next year's free agency crop, and while Howard may be Lakers fans' dream choice, Paul and Williams meet a specific need.

It's no secret that the Lakers are in dire need of a new lead guard, and the team's decision to use their first two picks of the 2011 NBA Draft on backcourt players is a good start.

But if the Lakers hope to immediately contend for a title in new coach Mike Brown's offensive system, it will not be with Darius Morris or Andrew Goudelock as a starter, so it is widely assumed that the team will make acquiring a decent point guard a top priority.

Would the Lakers target high-profile free agents like Paul and Williams? I'm not sure if owner Jerry Buss would spend the type of money Paul and Williams would command considering they are point guards, but under the NBA's old salary system you couldn't rule it out.

Buss has never minded spending money to improve his team, and the deal the players rejected did raise the luxury tax but I'm doubtful if the dollar amount would ...

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