The harsh reality for the Los Angeles Lakers is that they need to make significant roster adjustments. With a Hall of Fame bound guard in Kobe Bryant nearing the end of his career, everything must be done to surround him with enough talent to continue to compete.
Management responded last season by making a run at Chris Paul, but was shot down as NBA Commissioner David Stern vetoed the trade. LA instead received Ramon Sessions at the trade deadline, hoping to improve their chances in the playoffs.
They were instead knocked out by the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. Sessions is now an unrestricted free agent whom LA is making a strong push to bring back.
The Lakers are also looking to deal Pau Gasol. He is one of the premier big men in the league, and has not played up to his usual standard in the playoffs. His regular season averages of 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds on 50 percent shooting dipped to 12.5 points, 9.5 rebounds on 43 percent shooting.
He is a perennial All-Star, and possesses great skill around the basket. He has not performed as well lately, due to the Lakers lack of legitimate perimeter players. With the following moves, LA can become a championship contender once again.
A story surfaced on Hoops Rumours that Toronto Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo plans to use the amnesty clause on point guard Jose Calderon. Despite being in the final year of his contract, Calderon will be placed on waivers, and his $10.5 million will be cleared from the Toronto payroll.
LA must jump on this scenario.
Despite being over the salary cap, the Lakers still possess a trade exception of $8.9 million from the Lamar Odom trade.
Should LA bid on Calderon?
As Calderon will be placed on waivers, LA can place a ‘bid’, if you will. This exception, despite its name, can be used to bid for the aforementioned amount. As most teams will not look to take his entire contract, the Lakers need to do exactly that.
Outbidding other teams and placing an $8.9 million offer on the table for the Spanish point guard will guarantee LA receives him.
Even though it adds significantly more salary to an already crowded payroll, Calderon’s contract would end at the end of the season, thereby clearing it from the books. It doesn’t that hurt he is close friends with Gasol, as they both play on the Spanish National team together in the summer.
He averaged 10.5 points and 8.8 assists, with just 2 turnovers per game. Calderon has the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the league, topping the likes of Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker.
Placing him alongside Bryant, Gasol and Bynum is surely a good thing, should they choose to add him to the roster. Adding Calderon would make the attempt to re-sign Sessions negligible. While Sessions is faster and younger, Calderon possesses the outside shooting and play-making abilities LA desperately needs.
LA can then use their mid-level exception to add outside shooting and scoring. Adding a player of the likes of Carlos Delfino or Gerald Green would fit the bill.
There seems to be a vast overreaction determining the situation of Gasol. His recent struggles are well documented, but what he can offer outweighs his uncharacteristic labouring.
A dominant frontcourt of Gasol and Andrew Bynum is ludicrous to break up, especially since it has helped bring LA two championships in recent years. It causes mismatches for opponents on both ends of the floor, and would be even more impactful with sufficient space created by the outside games of Bryant, Calderon and the outside shooting of whoever management decides is fit to court in free agency.
As long as this player can create his own offense and makes shots from beyond the arc, and LA claims Calderon of waivers, they will once again become a powerhouse in the Western Conference.