The NBA free agency period has begun, and the Los Angeles Lakers must sign shooters in order to convince Dwight Howard to re-sign with the team.
Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol are all on the roster, but the team is missing a prolific scorer on the outside.
Dave McMenamin and Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com reported that the Lakers have already contacted several players to help improve the team's scoring.
Among those contacted are guards Francisco Garcia (Houston), Wayne Ellington (Cleveland) and Nick Young (Philadelphia).
McMenamin and Shelburne also reported that Howard wants to win championships, so the Lakers need to find players who can hit shots on the outside. The team has Bryant, but he is still rehabbing from an injury. Other than their franchise player, the Lakers don't have an explosive scorer.
The Lakers ranked in the bottom half of the league in three-point shooting by hitting on 35.5 percent of their perimeter shots. The team took the third-most three-pointers per game in the league, but it had trouble knocking those shots down.
Only the Milwaukee Bucks shot worse than the Lakers did from deep in the postseason. The Lakers shot only 27 percent, and they struggled to score without Bryant in uniform.
Howard could be persuaded to stay if he sees that the team is committed to improving its current roster.
Nash and Steve Blake were the only players on the team who shot better than 37 percent from three-point range.
Los Angeles needs to find shooters if it has any chance of keeping Howard in purple and gold. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they won't be able to afford a premier shooter if Howard sticks around.
Garcia and Ellington are among the best bargain shooters available. Garcia has hit at least 38 percent of his three-point shots in four seasons in his career, and Ellington has only had one season in which he shot below 39 percent from deep.
The Lakers are aging and have a few more years to contend with their current core. Adding role players will be important for the team's success.
If the league has learned anything from the Miami Heat the last two seasons it's that bargain shooters can be the difference in a championship and going home. The Heat have perfected the system. Getting Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Mike Miller have been critical in the Heat's back-to-back championships.
Ellington may not be at the level of those players, but he can still be an effective shooter.
The Lakers could also look to undrafted players, such as Seth Curry, for help. Curry hit at least 43 percent of his three-pointers in two of his three years at Duke. He is a limited player who doesn't do much besides shoot, but his range could help Los Angeles.
Howard wants to win. The Lakers need help shooting the ball, and they aren't likely to win a championship without signing a couple of role players.
It's going to take a lot of convincing to get Howard to re-sign with the team, but the Lakers can help their chances by getting some sharpshooters to knock down big shots.
*All stats are courtesy of NBA.com