NBA Trade Rumors: Los Angeles Lakers Should Stay Put Without Rondo or Howard

Michael DulkaContributor IMarch 5, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 04:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers is fouled by Mike Miller #13 of the Miami Heat on a rebound during a 93-83 Laker win at Staples Center on March 4, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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With Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard separating themselves from talks including the Los Angeles Lakers over the last few weeks, the Lakers shouldn't make any big moves before the NBA's trade deadline on March 15. 

Rondo's incredible performance against the New York Knicks on Sunday has many NBA analysts thinking that the young point guard played himself off the trading block and that the Boston Celtics will be keeping him. There is almost no Howard-to-LA talk going on anymore as many think the Orlando Magic won't move the soon-to-be free agent Howard before the deadline.

If the Lakers are unable to obtain one of these two players by the trade deadline, they shouldn't engage in a trade that would blow up a roster that has finally started to come together and play as a team.

In the last few games, Pau Gasol has improved his play after being heavily impacted by trade talks that centered around him. With Gasol back on board, the Lakers have a chance to be competitive in the Western Conference with the team they have now. They may not be favorites, but they will be a tough out for any team in a seven-game series.

In their last 10 games, the Lakers have been extremely impressive, going 8-2 during the stretch. They have erased the gap between themselves and the Los Angeles Clippers in the race for the Pacific Division title.

During the stretch, the Lakers have gotten some quality wins against would-be playoff teams including home victories against the Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trailblazers and Miami Heat. They went on the road to take down the Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 16:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics looks to move against John Lucas III #15 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on February 16, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Celtics 89-80. NOTE TO USER: User express
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A trade for Rondo would have turned this team into an instant top-notch squad as the Lakers continue to struggle with point guard play. As a top, young point guard, Rondo would have given the Lakers much more freedom on offense and taken pressure off of Kobe Bryant

If the Lakers would have managed to bring in Howard, they would have added a dominant force in the paint to improve their defense and help provide another offensive option. Bynum is a talented young center, but Howard is in a league of his own as the top center in the NBA.

With those trades less and less likely to happen, the Lakers are running out of options to improve their basketball team.

If the Lakers were to blow up their team at this point in the season by trading Gasol for a second-tier player, they can all but kiss their title chances away.

Kyle Lowry has been mentioned as a player who could possibly be acquired by the Lakers by giving up Pau Gasol. Matt Moore for ProBasketballTalk downplays the likelihood of a deal involving these teams and players and quotes an article stating that the Rockets and GM David Kahn love Gasol, "but the Rockets’ love of point guard Kyle Lowry (who the Lakers would also love) has likely ended any possibilities there."  

That's most likely the best decision for the Lakers. Lowry would surely improve the point guard position, but the value just isn't quite there in Lowry, and Houston's love of the point guard would surely raise the player's worth way beyond what the Lakers should give up for his services.

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 15:  Raymond Felton #5 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives on Ekpe Udoh #20 of the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on February 15, 2012 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by dow
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According to Chris Haynes of CSNNW, "A league source has informed that the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers have had 'exploratory talks' regarding Trail Blazers' guard Raymond Felton." 

Ideally, bringing in Raymond Felton would look like a good move on paper if the Lakers had to part with little more than Steve Blake, but Felton is having a terrible year, averaging career lows in both points per game and rebounds per game.

Felton is not going to be the reason this Lakers team wins or doesn't win a championship. If they are going to accomplish the feat, it is going to take incredible play down the stretch from Kobe Bryant and solid, strong play from the pair of seven-footers in Gasol and Bynum.

The Lakers have struggled asserting their dominant size before, but will need to do so in the playoffs if they hope to get past the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder.