- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Another Los Angeles Lakers free agent appears to be taking his championship rings elsewhere in search of more playing time.
The Atlanta Hawks are close to finalizing a one-year deal with forward Josh Powell worth approximately $1.1 million, according to sources close to the situation. The deal is expected to be finalized early next week, perhaps as soon as Monday.
Powell, a five-year veteran, averaged 2.7 points and 1.8 rebounds in 9.2 minutes per game for the Lakers last season but was an influential locker room presence as one of Kobe Bryant's most trusted confidants. Powell was credited by teammates for being a consummate professional as a practice player.
Despite winning two titles in his two seasons with the Lakers, Powell chose the Hawks in the same way Jordan Farmar signed with the New Jersey Nets in hopes of a taking on a larger role with his new team.
Powell played only 41 minutes during last season's playoffs, but in returning to his hometown of Atlanta, the 6-foot-9, 240-pounder hopes to absorb some of the playing time of departing reserves Joe Smith and Randolph Morris while backing up starters Josh Smith and Al Horford.
Powell's departure will open the door for the Lakers to offer a contract to one of their second-round draft picks -- Devin Ebanks of West Virginia or Derrick Caracter of Texas-El Paso -- to fill Powell's spot next season. Both are considered likely to make the team while earning rookie minimum salaries and occupying the seats at the end of the bench that used to belong to Powell and backup big man D.J. Mbenga, who is also expected to sign with a new team.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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