The Los Angeles Lakers have their new coach in Mike D’Antoni and are running a little bit more efficiently lately. However, they still have a problem with a razor-thin bench and very little depth in case any of the starters gets injured.
In order to cover the holes in the lineup and the delayed return of Steve Nash, the Lakers need to start considering some trades. Nobody on the roster, except Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, is immovable, and trades would provide immediate benefits.
The Lakers ideally will be looking for younger, more athletic players that can fill holes and still provide the offensive pop that the team desires.
Let’s take a closer look at what might be available.
All stats in this article are accurate as of November 29th, 2012.
Let’s get this suggestion out early because it is the biggest and most realistic improvement that the Lakers can make. Pau Gasol doesn’t look like he is comfortable in the new Mike D’Antoni offense and has been called out by Kobe for coasting a little bit.
Gasol is averaging 35.7 minutes per game this season, which is about a minute less than he averaged the past two seasons. Yes, he is 32 years old and seven-feet tall, but he shouldn’t be acting like he is in his late 30s, even though he is playing through tendinitis.
This is the same trade that was rumored about back in June, and it could easily fill one hole and provide a solid backup to fill another hole.
Smith is a 6’9” forward who is very athletic and can play underneath and away from the basket. The biggest complaint is that he likes to fire too many shots that are out of his shooting range.
Smith will become a free agent this offseason, and GM Danny Ferry will more than likely want to get something in return for Smith rather than see him walk out the door empty-handed. Smith will be looking for a big payday after the season ends.
Smith would mold into the D’Antoni offense with ease, as he could use his athletic frame to really push the offense.
Teague would most definitely be a great backup to Steve Nash, as he is the starting point guard for the Hawks. He has put together some numbers so far this season with a line of 13.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG and 7.3 APG.
Teague was not one of the restricted free agents to be offered a contract this offseason, so he will be free to pursue other opportunities in the offseason, making Teague a little easier to give up.
This trade would be an all-out blockbuster that would shift some players around that are not happy with their current teams.
Here is how the trade components would play out:
Los Angeles Lakers: PF Amar’e Stoudemire (Knicks), SG Richard Hamilton (Bulls) and SF Linus Kleiza (Raptors)
New York Knicks: Luol Deng (Bulls) and Metta World Peace (Lakers)
Chicago Bulls: Pau Gasol (Lakers), Jose Calderon (Raptors) and Earl Clark (Lakers)
Toronto Raptors: Carlos Boozer (Bulls) and Steve Blake (Lakers)
The Lakers would immediately swap Antawn Jamison into the starting lineup to replace the departed Gasol until Amar’e is fully healthy.
Once Amar’e is fully healthy, he would then team with Dwight Howard to form one of the strongest frontcourts in the NBA.
The Lakers would also be acquiring Linus Kleiza to replace Metta World Peace, but more importantly, they would be getting a true backup to Kobe Bryant in Rip Hamilton.
The deletion of the salaries of World Peace, Steve Blake and Earl Clark would help the Lakers, while Pau and Amar’e virtually cancel themselves out.
Raja Bell and the Utah Jazz are over. The Jazz tried to buyout Bell, who is currently estranged from the club, but that did not work. They are now looking for trade possibilities, and the Lakers look to be in position No. 1.
The relationship went sour after Bell’s role was limited last season, and he took it out on coach Tyrone Corbin. Now, Bell is with the Utah Jazz by name only.
Bell is a fierce competitor who is also a quality perimeter defender and is someone who can still consistently hit three-pointers. He would be an ideal fit with D’Antoni since the two teamed up together in Phoenix, where Bell had his famous run-in with Kobe Bryant.
Bryant is now recruiting Bell, as he would be happy to have that type of player on his team.
In exchange for Bell, the only two players that the Lakers can trade are Steve Blake or Chris Duhon. Since Blake made no friends with his incident earlier this year, he looks to be the one on the block.
The Lakers wouldn’t be missing anything with the loss of Blake and would be gaining someone who still has the desire to fight for a championship.
Steve Blake is once again involved in this trade suggestion going with F Earl Clark to Phoenix for proven SG/SF Jared Dudley. Dudley will definitely provide more offense and can be a backup to both Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace.
The big key here is that he provides depth and can start at a moment’s notice. He is currently backing up former Laker Shannon Brown at the shooting-guard position.
Phoenix would be able to escape having to pay four more years of his manageable salary ($4,250,000 for the next four seasons), and Dudley would have a chance to excel on a team with a lot more offensive firepower and a team with no true backup to MWP.
Dudley could be had right now because he is under-performing, but he's better than most Lakers bench options.
Steve Blake would just transfer teams and have the same role, while F Earl Clark would fight for limited minutes like he is doing now.
Metta World Peace is having a resurgence this season, but he can be used to acquire depth and his replacement.
MWP can be traded along with Steve Blake to Orlando for G J.J. Redick and F Al Harrington. Redick has an expiring contract, but he will also fit the depth issue that is really problematic.
Redick is really having his best season during his walk year by averaging 14.8 PPG, 5.0 APG and 1.9 RPG going into Wednesday night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. That is a big jump from any current bench player on the Lakers roster.
Al Harrington hasn’t played in a game yet this season, as he has been healing from a staph infection that he suffered after having surgery on his right knee last season. He is frustrated that he has been out so long, but he should return in about a month, even though he hasn't disclosed anything as of yet.
Harrington can provide a lot of offense and the extra spark that this Lakers team needs. Antawn Jamison can cover the small-forward position in the transition if this trade happens.
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