The 2012 NBA All-Star Game is just a few days away, which means that we are also coming up on this season’s trade deadline. Last year, the week leading up to the deadline was one of the most eventful in years.
The Nuggets made a blockbuster trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks and New Jersey acquired Deron Williams from the Jazz. This year’s trade deadline is going to have a tough time equaling the excitement from 2011.
The team with the most on their plate before the trade deadline is the Lakers. Los Angeles had a nightmare offseason in the front office and has been trying to recover from it since. On December 8th, the team reached an agreement with the New Orleans Hornets and Houston Rockets to trade away Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in exchange for five-time All-Star Chris Paul.
But Commissioner David Stern vetoed the exchange because he believed that it would be terrible for the league’s minor markets. Unfortunately for the Lakers, Lamar Odom was infuriated by this pending deal and thus asked for a trade.
In an effort to free up some space to try to claim three-time Defensive Player of the Year Award winner Dwight Howard from the Magic, Los Angeles general manager Mitch Kupchak sent Odom to the defending champion Dallas Mavericks for solely cash considerations. As the days passed and the Lakers got closer and closer to their Christmas Day season opener, they failed to reel in Howard. Instead, Los Angeles was forced to fill their roster with dispensable benchwarmers like Josh McRoberts, Troy Murphy and Jason Kapono.
Nearly half way through the lockout-shortened 66 game season, the Lakers are still looking to make a big move. While they have managed to keep a record above .500 in their first campaign under head coach Mike Brown, things could be better. Above all, the Lakers have struggled mightily on the road and have been able to score over 100 points only on a handful of occasions.
What is the Lakers' biggest need for this season?
It is obvious that the Lakers are going to do whatever it takes to try to bring Dwight Howard to the City of Angels, but the center position is the least of their worries. Trading for Howard would mean that Los Angeles would have to give up Andrew Bynum, a starting All-Star this season.
Right now the Lakers have much more important changes to make. Neither Metta World Peace, Devin Ebanks nor Matt Barnes have shown that they can offer enough help offensively to maintain the team’s starting small forward position, but they are all that Los Angeles has at this point.
If the Lakers want to contend before current scoring leader Kobe Bryant begins to decline, they must claim a small forward to complete their starting five. In my opinion, the best forward that could come to the Lakers for a cheap price would be Michael Beasley.
Although this is the Timberwolves forward’s fourth year in the league, he is just 23 years old. Beasley, the second pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, has had to split a lot of playing time with last year’s second draft selection, Derrick Williams. He is not the defensive presence that most 6'10'' players are, but Beasley offers Los Angeles much needed help on offense, with a career average of 15.7 point per game.
Another small forward who could possibly make his way to Los Angeles (in my opinion) is Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince. Prince has been with the Pistons since his NBA debut in 2002. He helped them beat the Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals and has played in a number of postseason games through the years.
Prince is younger than Kobe and has a number of tools to offer in his artillery. Not only has he been selected to four All-Defensive teams throughout the course of his career, but Prince has also drilled 12.8 points per game.
Once the Lakers solve their problems at small forward, the team will be built to make a push in the wide open Western Conference. They certainly have problems at point guard, but Los Angeles won five titles with Derek Fisher scoring just eight points on average. The Lakers are said to be interested in signing either Gilbert Arenas or Allen Iverson.
These two men might be the most controversial in the history of the NBA, while Fisher is probably one of the nicest players of this era. This being said, I believe that before Fisher retires the Lakers should allow him to train rookie guard Andrew Goudelock and then work on solving their problems at the position over the offseason.