The Los Angeles Lakers have been the most controversial franchise during the first quarter of the 2012-13 NBA campaign. Their early struggles, after an intense offseason that generated so much hope, have added to the intense scrutiny the team is receiving.
Let’s take a look at the latest rumors and news concerning this slumping franchise—currently off to a 10-14 start—as we enter the second quarter of this tumultuous season.
Lakers Declined Atlanta’s Trade Talk
In news that might just hurt L.A. fans to hear, the team brass reportedly rebuffed an inquiry from the Atlanta Hawks about a possible Josh Smith-for-Pau Gasol trade.
According to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times, the Hawks were interested over the summer—but highly unlikely to pull the trigger on any deal at this juncture.
Gasol has largely been ineffective under coach Mike D’Antoni, whose system revolves around outside shooting and athleticism from every position. The 32-year-old Spaniard isn’t renowned for his touch away from the rim and has been battling tendinitis in both knees.
Smith has helped the Hawks to an incredible start and surprisingly has them in contention after shipping away Joe Johnson this past summer. He’s only 27 years old and has some of the most impressive hops in the league.
Unfortunately, L.A.’s decision-makers figured the Princeton offense would be the system of choice for their team, not D’Antoni’s run-and-gun style. Things changed quickly, and it’s clear in hindsight that the Lakers should have pulled the trigger on any deal highlighted by Gasol for Smith.
More Players Available to Move
While the Lakers may wish they had swapped Gasol for Smith, they still have a chance to tweak their roster prior to February’s trade deadline.
A number of offseason additions have become available to trade as of Saturday, including some of their big-name acquisitions.
As per Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison, Devin Ebanks and Darius Morris are all available to be dealt by the franchise.
The latter two have the right to decline any potential trade as part of their Bird Rights, while Jordan Hill is protected until Jan. 15 due to his offseason raise, which totaled more than 20 percent of his original salary.
While we don’t expect any of these players to be dealt in 2012-13, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the team makes a drastic, blockbuster deal by the deadline.
Kobe Genuinely Happy to Beat Wizards
Not all is doom and gloom in Hollywood right now. The Lakers recently pulled out an impressive—by their lowly standards—win against the Wizards, and superstar Kobe Bryant couldn’t be happier.
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin,
"I am actually," a beaming Bryant said when asked if he was relishing the end of his team's four-game losing streak after holding on to beat the Wizards, 102-96. "I am! I am. I'm very, very happy to win one damn game."
It’s quite a telling sign for the direction of franchise when they are actually relieved to beat a team that is just 3-18 on the season. Hopefully, the win will help the slumping Lakers build confidence and snowball into a sorely needed streak.