Free-agent profile: Brandon Rush

This is the fourth in a series of profiles focusing on this year’s free-agent class.

Player: Brandon Rush

Former team: Golden State Warriors

Type of free agent: Restricted

Positives: The Lakers’ most pressing need this offseason involves bolstering their three-point shooting. There’s no better candidate than Rush to improve the Lakers’ 39.5% mark in 2011-12, which ranked 25th in the league. Rush shot 45% from downtown last season with Golden State, and his presence would significantly help spread the floor and make the double teams on Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol less persistent. It’s possible Rush’s shot could become even more dangerous than his career average (41.3%) because he’ll receive more open looks because of the Lakers’ Big Three.

Rush may not offer the qualities Matt Barnes offered in making sharp cuts to the basket, making effective swing passes and hustle plays. But L.A. expected to let Barnes walk, the Lakers will need to fill that small forward position. It’s understandable if they put more value in addressing their poor outside shooting than finding a role player who performs the intangibles.

Negatives: Rush offers little else beyond his outside shooting. He can’t drive to the basket, shooting only 32.4% from shots within three to nine feet. Rush isn’t particularly fast and can’t guard wing players (ranking 217 overall in total defense). Rush even shows some limitations in his three-point shooting. Synergy Sports Technology notes that the majority of Rush’s treys come on spot-up shots (53 of his 99 three-pointers came in this area where he shot 44.5%). Though Rush also shot 22 of 44 from three-point range in shots in transition, he didn’t score much on other plays, such as in isolation, post-ups and passes off a pick-and-roll. Even if he won’t command too many double teams because of the Big Three, that limitation could eventually make it easier for defenses to stop his tendencies.

Verdict: The Times’ Mike Bresnahan reported the Lakers are interested in him. But acquiring Rush could be difficult. The Warriors extended a $4-million qualifying offer, which makes him a restricted free agent and allows the team to match any offer he receives from other teams. The San Francisco Chronicle also notes the Warriors’ strong sentiments in re-signing Rush, making this signing unrealistic. Still, the Lakers should pursue him just in case.



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