Every team strives to have capable depth at every position. After all, any team is one injury away from having to play a backup for meaningful minutes, and the level in which that reserve player performs can mean the difference between wins and losses.
The Lakers are currently experiencing this dilemma. In the second game of the season, Steve Nash was injured and has missed four games and counting. His back up, Steve Blake, has performed okay in Nash's absence but he too is now injured, leaving the Lakers with their third and fourth string point guards to steer their offense. The results have been mixed (and that's generous).
Beyond the injury issues, the Lakers' coaching change from Mike Brown to Mike D'Antoni will put a greater emphasis on point guard play. In D'Antoni's offense, the point guard carries a heavy responsibility as an offensive creator and needs to generate offense for himself and his teammates out of the pick-and-roll and in isolation.
Since Steve Nash can't play the entire game, the Lakers must think long and hard about the ability of their reserve point guards to fill in capably for Nash. The fact that Nash has already been injured and is already 38 years old only enhances the need for this exploration of options.
The only issue facing the Lakers is that they must work within the context of their needs and what they can actually do to resolve them. Said another way, the team must perform a cost-benefit analysis and determine how they want to proceed and if they're able to proceed at all when judging their resources, availability of alternatives and what it would take to get a new backup point guard.
Understand their are three key issues facing the Lakers in any pursuit of obtaining additional talent.
First, the team has few trade assets outside of their core four players. Second, the Lakers are currently carrying the full allotment of players they're allowed to with 15 guys on their roster. Third, the Lakers are a high payroll team with only part of their mini mid-level exception to lure any street free agent.
These factors complicate things a great deal.
If the Lakers are going to trade for a point guard who is actually better than the players they currently have backing up Nash, they'll either need to convince a team to take on a lesser player or trade one of their core four to make it happen.
Furthermore, if the Lakers make a trade it has to be a one-for-one type of deal where they bring in the same number of players they send out in order to not exceed the maximum number of players on their roster. This means that, if they were trade Pau Gasol (for example), they'd either need to take back a single player in that trade or add on more players from their own roster in order to take back more than one player from their trade partner.
Plus, with the Lakers' already sky-high payroll, adding on too much (if any) salary isn't likely to happen. This means the team will need to find a way to dump one or more of their own unwanted contracts in a trade to take back any player with money still owed on his deal.
This same financial concern also makes it unlikely the Lakers reach out to a street free agent and sign him, simply because (1). they'd be taking on additional payroll and (2) they'd have to release a player in order to sign a free agent, which means paying the salary of the player they pick up and the salary of the player they waive. And paying double for a single player isn't ideal for a team paying a high payroll tax like the Lakers.
These are all obstacles that would need to be overcome for the Lakers to actually upgrade their back up point guard spot. But, with these caveats in place, lets look at some of their options to do just that...