5 Potential L.A. Lakers Trade Targets Who Would Thrive in Mike D'Antoni's System
The Los Angeles Lakers look likely to tip off the Mike D'Antoni Era this week, be it opposite the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday at the Staples Center or on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena.
Not that the front office need await D'Antoni's debut to peruse the trade market. You don't need to be John Hollinger or Jack McCallum to figure out that the Lakers could use another shooter or two to make their new coach's wide-open system hum.
Though, if you've seen the Lakers play lately, you'll know that they can fill it up pretty well as is.
Since D'Antoni began running practices last Thursday, the Lakers have scored an average of 116.5 points per game on 50.6 percent shooting.
Nonetheless, the Lakers shouldn't have much trouble scoring once Pringles is popped and ready to go.
Of course, that could change if, say, Pau Gasol, who's struggled for the most part this season, doesn't get his act together and/or finds himself the odd man out under D'Antoni.
If that happens, these guys—athletic wings and/or shooters all—should find themselves squarely in Mitch Kupchak's sights.
Josh Smith is far and away the biggest name that's been bandied about as a potential trade target for the Lakers.
The 6'9" forward is the sort of athletic presence LA could use, be it running the break on offense or smothering opposing wings on defense.
He also happens to be a close childhood friend of Dwight Howard's, which could be useful as the Lakers look to re-sign the All-Star center this summer.
Smith, too, will be a free agent and has had something of a rocky relationship with the Atlanta Hawks over the years.
Perhaps, then, Hawks GM Danny Ferry will find it most prudent to get something for J-Smoove rather than risk losing him for nothing in July.
However, relations between Smith and his hometown team seem to have improved since Joe Johnson was jettisoned this past offseason.
Likewise, if the Hawks hope to lure Howard back to the ATL after the season, they'd do well to keep Smith on board.
As for the Lakers, Smith can space the floor, though whether they'd want him to is another story entirely.
He's never shot better than 33.1 percent from three in a season, has hit just two-of-10 from beyond the arc in 2012-13 and has a reputation for taking (and clanking) long twos—the least efficient shot in basketball, mind you.
That aside, Smith could be a Shawn Marion-like fit at power forward for D'Antoni if the Hawks decide that Gasol, at 32 and with a contract that'll pay him more than $19 million next season, is a worthwhile acquisition.
Anthony Morrow and Kyle Korver
If Atlanta is comfortable parting with another player on a smaller contract to make the salaries match up.
The most likely culprits?
Anthony Morrow and Kyle Korver.
Morrow, like Smith, is an Atlanta native and long-time friend of Dwight's. He's been in and out of Larry Drew's rotation since joining the Hawks via the Joe Johnson deal.
However, Morrow's ranked among the most reliable sharpshooters in the NBA since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2008.
Korver came over in a trade with the Chicago Bulls over the summer and is off to yet another sizzling start from distance (.465 on threes).
He, too, would be a solid fit as a floor-spacing spot-up shooter with the Lakers.
Atlanta's willingness to deal any of these guys during the season will likely depend on how things play out on the court.
If the Hawks end up in the mix for a solid seed in the Eastern Conference, as so many predicted they would prior to the 2012-13 campaign, then, perhaps, they'll cash some of their chips for a contending piece like Gasol.
And, if not, those same pieces might just as easily be swapped for younger, cheaper assets with which to build for the future.
Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon
The Toronto Raptors, on the other hand, figure to be less inhibited when it comes to playing "Let's Make a Deal." Their current roster is a bit of a hodgepodge, with some (DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Amir Johnson) locked into regrettable long-term deals and others (Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon) playing under more temporally-friendly terms.
As it happens, the salaries of Bargnani and Calderon combine in such a way as to make a straight-up swap for Gasol workable.
For his part, Raptors GM Brian Colangelo has long demonstrated an affinity for international players and probably wouldn't mind adding a star like Pau to a core of DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and rookie import Jonas Valanciunas.
On the other end of this, Calderon would be a great get for the Lakers. He's an excellent shooter (.385 from three for his career) and arguably the best backup point guard in the game—both areas of need for LA.
Bargnani isn't exactly a slam-dunk, though there's some hope for the former No. 1 pick.
Bargnani's shooting percentages are down this season, but his track record would suggest that those will improve, especially if the looks he gets are as wide-open as they'd figure to be with D'Antoni's Lakers.
And, at last, the big Italian wouldn't have to worry about rebounding and blocking shots like a typical NBA big man. Rather, he could lean on Howard to handle those duties while he spots up from the wing.
Such a deal would also save the Lakers some dough in the interim, though any plans to splurge during the summer of 2014 would be jeopardized, assuming Bargnani doesn't exercise his early termination option by then.
Hedo Turkoglu: JJ Redick and Jameer Nelson
The Lakers could also seek to make a similar deal with the Orlando Magic, perhaps one involving Hedo Turkoglu and JJ Redick.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and Magic GM Rob Hennigan are eminently familiar with one another after putting together the Dwight Howard trade this past summer.
The idea of taking on Gasol's salary probably wouldn't thrill Hennigan.
Orlando's head honcho has made it clear that he'd rather rebuild in a financially flexible manner rather than spend to win a little bit more in the here and now.
Should such a deal become a topic of regular conversation, it would likely be built around the contract of Hedo Turkoglu.
The Turkish forward has been on the decline for some time, hasn't played since November 2nd on account of a broken hand, and is owed $12 million next season.
To his credit, Turkoglu is the sort of "stretch four" who could be of value under D'Antoni.
To make the money work, the Magic would probably look to throw in either JJ Redick or Jameer Nelson.
Redick is enjoying a phenomenal season in Orlando so far and could be headed for a hefty payday this summer if he keeps it up.
Nelson has had no such renaissance and is under contract through 2014-15.
As such, the Magic may prefer to include Nelson in a deal of this sort, though they'd have to wait to do so after re-signing the ninth-year veteran in July.
And, frankly, would the Lakers really trade Gasol for two injury-prone, over-the-hill veterans?
Suppose the Lakers aren't looking for another blockbuster move. Suppose D'Antoni and Gasol work well together and Kupchak likes what he sees from them.
Luckily, the market isn't exactly devoid of cheaper options. Case in point: Daequan Cook. The shooting specialist has hardly seen the floor since joining the Houston Rockets as part of the James Harden trade.
Surely, Rockets GM Daryl Morey, ever the wheeler-and-dealer, would entertain offers for a guy who's wasting away on the end of Kevin McHale's bench.
Whether the Lakers would have anything of value to offer in return is a more complicated story.