- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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LOS ANGELES -- The Lakers have opened discussions with free-agent swingman Mike Miller, a source close to the situation said Thursday.
Miller is a former NBA rookie of the year and sixth man of the year. He averaged 10.9 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and 48 percent shooting on 3-pointers for Washington last season, his 10th in the league.
Miller would provide a sure outside stroke the Lakers have lacked and help shore up a bench unit that could lose up to 22.5 points a game in scoring if free agent reserves Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, Josh Powell, D.J. Mbenga and Adam Morrison all leave for new horizons.
Miller earned $9.8 million last season and would need to take a significant paycut to join the Lakers.
With seven players under contract for next season and six roster spots to fill, the Lakers have begun to look to new personnel.
After addressing the need for backup big men in the draft should Powell and Mbenga not return -- the Lakers selected two 6-foot-9 players, Devin Ebanks with the No. 43 pick and Derrick Caracter with the No. 58 pick -- the team has expressed interest in several free-agent guards.
Earl Watson, Steve Blake and Luke Ridnour are available point guards who earned between $4 million and $6.5 million last season. The Lakers have their full mid-level exception available to sign one of those players, valued at $5.8 million for up to five years, but are reluctant to use it considering they are already about $13 million over the luxury tax limit of $69.9 million for next season.
Watson's agent, Todd Ramasar, said there is mutual interest between his client and the Lakers but did not expect discussions to escalate until the Lakers have a chance to re-sign Derek Fisher.
According to sources close to Fisher and Brown, both players would love to return to L.A. but have been contacted by "a lot" of teams.
The Lakers have some competition for Miller, who met with the Knicks on Thursday night.
Other than Miller, the Lakers have shown some interest in Raja Bell and Anthony Morrow, two Golden State players with the ability to spread the floor with their outside shooting. Bell tied for the league lead in 3-pointers with 205 in 2006-07 and Morrow, a 24-year-old swingman, led the league in 3-point percentage as a rookie, connecting at a 46.7 percent clip in 2008-09.
Morrow's agent, Wallace Prather, said Thursday he has had preliminary talks with the Lakers. At 6-foot-5, 210-pounds, Morrow is a restricted free agent, meaning the Warriors can match any Lakers' offer.
As for the impending departures of the other Lakers' free agents, Indiana was the early front-runner to sign Farmar, but the 23-year old told ESPNLosAngeles.com via text message "Portland is right there too." Initial talks between Powell's agent and the Lakers have shown the team has some interest in keeping the fifth-year player despite the desire to shed salary next season.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.