The Los Angeles Lakers are currently 12-14, and that's after a three-game winning streak. Injuries, a lack of chemistry and general poor play have left the Lakers well off their expected pace and that has caused fans to wonder how they can fix the issues.
While getting Steve Nash back on the court would certainly help, that alone might not be enough to get the Lakers back where they want to be. That's the main reason Pau Gasol's name keeps coming up in trade fodder.
The only sure thing is Lakers fans are getting frustrated. Let's take a look at some of the latest buzz around the team as L.A.'s front office decides what to do next.
Gasol returned to the Lakers lineup on Tuesday night, scoring 10 points and grabbing nine rebounds in 29 minutes after sitting out for two weeks with a knee injury. Not even sitting on the sidelines could stop him from being the focus of trade talk, though.
Chad Ford of ESPN states the Minnesota Timberwolves are interested in the power forward, but the NBA insider isn't confident they can build a package good enough for the Lakers to accept. He mentions the Milwaukee Bucks as another option.
Stalemates have been a common theme in Gasol trade discussions this season. Teams are interested because of his strong track record, but finding a deal that works for both sides has proven difficult. With each passing week, the Lakers seem better off standing pat for now.
Will Nash's return get the Lakers back on track?
Although it's taken longer than Laker Nation hoped, it sounds like Nash is getting close to his return. The superstar point guard has been sidelined since the end of October with a lingering leg injury. He has played just two games.
He's back at practice and might be back in the lineup on Saturday night when the Lakers take on the Golden State Warriors, according to Sam Amick of USA Today. A Christmas Day clash with the New York Knicks is the backup plan.
Of course, that report is assuming Nash doesn't suffer any setbacks as he begins to pick up the intensity during practices. The eight-time All-Star would provide a boost to the Lakers, but it will take some time before he finds top form.
It's no surprise the Lakers have been linked to Smith in the past. The versatile 27-year-old forward would be the perfect glue guy for Los Angeles, and would certainly bring some energy to an aging roster in need of a spark.
Alas, Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld.com reports the Hawks have no interest in a trade that would send Smith to L.A. in exchange for Gasol. It's something that's been talked about for a while, but Kyler says there's nothing to it.
When you consider Gasol is only averaging 13 points and nine rebounds, the Hawks are wise to avoid trading a major piece like Smith for him at this point. Even though things can always change before the deadline, it appears the Lakers will need to look elsewhere if they decide to move Gasol.