The Los Angeles Lakers are going through a transition phase as the Mike D’Antoni era is beginning, and the team is making a wise move by exploring options to revamp its bench.
Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that, “The Lakers have tried unsuccessfully for several weeks to trade bench players to create roster space.” In his article, Wojnarowski points to Raja Bell as a target for Los Angeles, while Marc J. Spears (also of Yahoo! Sports) reported via Twitter that free agent Mickael Pietrus is another player the Lakers are looking at.
The Lakers bench is currently producing 20.8 points per game, which ranks 28th in the NBA. With an aging roster and a fast-paced offense, L.A. will need to turn to its bench often this season, and right now, that is worrisome.
With 15 players on its roster, the team must unload some of its current members in order to have the option for change.
D’Antoni’s offense needs wing players who can run the court and shoot efficiently from behind the three-point line. If a player like this could also contribute defensively, that is certainly an added benefit.
Both Bell and Pietrus can hit three-point shots and play defense, making them smart targets for the Lakers.
Bell would be the better prospect, given his history with D’Antoni. In each of his three seasons under the new Lakers head coach, he shot more than five three-pointers per game and connected on over 40 percent of those attempts.
His tenacity on defense is well-known to Lakers fans due to his history with questionable tactics when guarding Kobe Bryant. This may cause concern over chemistry, but Bryant’s ultimate goal is to win a championship, and an incident from six years ago will not lead him to cause problems over a move that would make his team better.
While Bell should be the team’s first choice, Pietrus would also be an upgrade from their current options off the bench. Right now, Jodie Meeks is the only perimeter player in the second unit who fits the profile of a player who would excel in D’Antoni’s offense.
Pietrus is more of a streaky shooter than Bell, and his numbers from long distance are not as impressive. He has never shot over 40 percent from three-point range across a season.
However, he is six years younger than Bell and is significantly more athletic.
Ultimately, the Lakers’ current roster should not be the same when the NBA trade deadline arrives. The team must move some its current bench players to make room for players who will work better in D’Antoni’s offense, and both Bell and Pietrus are attractive options.