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Lakers Rumors: Why Reuniting Mike D'Antoni with Raja Bell Makes Sense

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket while being defended by Raja Bell #19 of the Utah Jazz in the second half at Staples Center on January 25, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Jazz 120-91. 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 Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Ryan DavenportContributor INovember 24, 2012

The winds of change may once again be sweeping through Los Angeles. 

After replacing Mike Brown with Mike D'Antoni as the team's head coach, the L.A. Lakers have been a much better team, winning five of their seven games since the move. 

Now, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, there's a possibility that the Lakers are in the running to add yet another high-profile veteran to their roster. 

With the hiring of Mike D'Antoni as coach, the Los Angeles Lakers are showing a renewed interest in acquiring exiled Utah Jazz guard Raja Bell, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Bell, 36, has had strong advocates with general manager Mitch Kupchak and Kobe Bryant since the summer, but D'Antoni's history coaching Bell with the Phoenix Suns has amplified discussion of signing the veteran guard should the Lakers create an opening on their roster.

With a $100 million payroll and $30 million in additional luxury-tax expenditures, the Lakers are unsure about cutting a player, paying his salary and then paying the additional salary ($1.3 million) and tax that it would take to sign Bell.

As Wojnarowski points out, Bell's history with D'Antoni is an a key factor in the Lakers' decision to pursue the 36-year-old, as Bell's most successful stint in the NBA came under D'Antoni in Phoenix. 

There, Bell blossomed into a NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, and also put up the best offensive numbers of his career, culminating with two consecutive seasons with 14.7 points per game from 2005-07. 

Bell was a perfect fit for D'Antoni's up-tempo offense and meshed well with former Suns and current Lakers star Steve Nash, which is certainly an important consideration as well. 

In addition, with little depth behind Kobe Bryant at shooting guard, Bell would be a nice insurance policy for the Lakers, especially if the team feels the need to give Bryant more rest down the stretch. 

It's still unclear how or if the Lakers will be able to clear enough space to fit Bell onto the roster, but assuming that's not a problem, he'd be valuable off the bench and would give the team important minutes late in the season. 

Bell can still play, as evidenced by his 33 starts last season with Utah, and given his desire to play for a contender, D'Antoni's Lakers would be an ideal destination for him. 

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