The Los Angeles Lakers need help. Badly.
With four perennial All-Stars and a payroll that exceeds $100 million, everyone expected the Lakers to torch the competition—all of the competition.
Instead, Los Angeles finds itself under .500 and nowhere near the Western Conference's playoff bubble.
It's time to panic. Which means it's also time for a change.
Executive vice president Jim Buss and the rest of the Lakers' front office minions may be opposed to dismantling the roster again, and their patience is actually admirable.
But Los Angeles wouldn't have fired Mike Brown five games into the season if patience was an option. This team needs to win now; it needs to fix its ever-growing list of conflicts now.
And it's time they took to the trade market to do it. Clearly, the Lakers aren't going anywhere standing pat. Not anywhere special, that is.
Thus, if Los Angeles is serious about salvaging the rest of the season, it's going to have to get serious about blowing its convocation up one more time.
*All stats in this article are accurate as of January 12, 2013.
Los Angeles Lakers get: PG Tyreke Evans, SF Francisco Garcia and PF Chuck Hayes
For the Lakers to get anything of value at the trade deadline, the underperforming Gasol is going to have to take a hike.
According to Ailsene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee, the Kings are willing to listen to trade offers for Evans (surprise, surprise), and per Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers are one of the teams that would like Sacramento's ear.
And rightfully so.
The success of Mike D'Antoni's uptempo offense is predicated on versatility. Evans can play and defend three positions on the floor. He provides the Los Angeles with an adequate playmaker should Steve Nash need a breather, yet he possesses the scoring abilities of both a shooting guard and small forward.
Does his jump shot need to improve? Of course, but that's what Garcia is for. He can rain threes (36 percent on the season) like it's his job (oh wait, it is), and his contract is up after next season.
Hayes' monster of a deal is unlikely to excite Los Angeles, but he's a necessary evil. With Jordan Hill done for the year and Gasol on his way to Sacramento (or Seattle?), the Lakers need someone who can hit the boards. Hayes, in all his undersized glory, can certainly do that.
As for the Kings, Gasol provides them with a veteran leader, something they currently don't have. He can serve as mentor to the ever-misguided DeMarcus Cousins as well as the extremely raw Thomas Robinson.
Toss in the fact that they would be bidding adieu to Hayes' deal and that Gasol could actually help them win some games, and you have a win-win situation.
And God knows the Lakers need a win of any kind right now.
Denver Nuggets Get: SF Devin Ebanks and PF Pau Gasol
Los Angeles Lakers Get: SG Wilson Chandler, SF Danilo Gallinari and C Timofey Mozgov
I know what you're thinking, Denver's getting hosed.
Except they aren't.
The Nuggets aren't using Tim Mozgov much and are open to moving the expensive Chandler. But Gallinari, their leading scorer?
Okay, let's get real.
Denver was mentioned by ESPN Grantland's Zach Lowe as a potential landing spot for Rudy Gay. Pulling the trigger on any blockbuster means that the Nuggets are prepared to relinquish either Gallo or Andre Iguodala.
Remember, Denver has an abundance of wings, and Gasol would give them their first legitimate low-post scorer. I mean, let's face it, JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried hardly embody offensive consistency. And don't even get started on Kosta Koufos. Plus, this deal saves the Nuggets a pile of money in the long run.
For the Lakers, they take back Mozgov who is extremely valuable for the rest of this season with Jordan Hill out. Gallinari is the perfect stretch 4 for Mike D'Antoni's system, and Chandler—while pricy—had his best years in this exact system with the New York Knicks.
People tend to forget that prior to being traded to Denver, Chandler was averaging 16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game on 46.1 percent shooting (35.1 percent from deep) in 2011. He's gone bust (courtesy of injuries) with the Nuggets but would be right at home under D'Antoni in Los Angeles.
Even if Denver balks at giving up Mozgov, you still pull this trigger. Both Gallo and Chandler were built for the Lakers' system, and Chandler strengthens the team's perimeter defense considerably.
Dallas Mavericks get: PG J.J. Barea (Minnesota) and C Meyers Leonard (Portland)
Los Angeles Lakers get: SG Wesley Matthews (Portland),SG Dominique Jones (Dallas) and PF Derrick Williams (Minnesota)
Minnesota Timberwolves get: PF Pau Gasol (Los Angeles)
Portland Trail Blazers get: SG Vince Carter (Dallas) and C Nikola Pekovic (Minnesota)
Complicated? You bet, but try to stay with me.
For the Mavericks, they need help at point guard, and after Jason Kidd, Barea is the point man they regret cutting ties with the most. And with Chris Kaman on a one-year deal and aging, Leonard gives them low-post hope for the future.
Moving onto Portland, it's important to remember the Blazers made a hard push for Roy Hibbert over the summer and would welcome the presence of free-agent-to-be Pekovic. Carter becomes a necessary inclusion when you consider they lose Matthews to the Lakers as well.
Speaking of Los Angeles, Matthews opens things up on offense considerably for the team. He can play the 2 or the 3 and is an understated defender as well (you're welcome, Kobe). Williams provides the team with some much-need athleticism and size, and his ability to score from anywhere on the floor makes him a borderline ideal stretch 4 for Mike D'Antoni's system.
And let's not pretend the Timberwolves wouldn't do this deal. They were the one of the teams who made a push for Gasol already this season (and many times before), and as a team that was hesitant to pay Kevin Love any kind of money, I highly doubt Pekovic would return next season.
But if you take away anything from this dance party of a trade, let it be this: This accord arguably works out for all teams involved.
The Lakers included.
Denver Nuggets get: SF Linas Kleiza (Toronto)
Los Angeles Lakers get: PG Jose Calderon (Toronto), SG Wilson Chandler (Denver) and PF Ed Davis (Toronto)
Toronto Raptors get: PF Pau Gasol (Los Angeles)
First, an explanation.
As previously mentioned and as also reported by Steve Kyler of HOOPSWORLD, Denver has made Chandler and his overbearing contract available.
I won't sit here and tell you Kleiza will make a huge impact with the Nuggets—though you never know with George Karl—but he is owed a shade under $10 million over the next two years compared to the near $30 million the Nuggets owe Chandler over the next four.
Toronto is likely to jump at this deal as well. The team has already indicated an interest in Gasol, and let's face it, having both Calderon and Kyle Lowry on the same roster is overkill.
Los Angeles gets a young, athletic and two-way impact wing in Chandler, a dangerous point guard who can also play shooting guard in Calderon and a versatile freak in Davis.
Sure, Davis can't hit treys, but coming off the bench he wouldn't need to. Not with Calderon and Chandler following him to the City of Angels.
A deal like this opens things up for the Lakers on both ends of the floor, saves Denver around $20 million and gives the Raptors the man they've been after for quite some time.
Nothing like a realistic and mutually beneficial three-team trade to get your juices flowing.
Denver Nuggets get: PG Darius Morris (Los Angeles) and PF Pau Gasol (Los Angeles)
Los Angeles Lakers get: SG Raja Bell (Utah), SG Wilson Chandler (Denver), PF Paul Millsap (Utah) and C Timofey Mozgov (Denver)
Utah Jazz get: SF Danilo Gallinari (Denver), SF Earl Clark (Los Angeles) and SF Devin Ebanks (Los Angeles)
And we're off.
Broken record style, Denver would pounce at the chance to move Chandler's contract. This deal would (again) cost them a leading scorer in Gallinari, but it opens up the perimeter for guys like Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer. It also allows the Nuggets to utilize a combo guard lineup of Ty Lawson and Andre Miller more as well.
Let's also not forget they'd be getting Gasol, a legitimate low-post threat who could serve as a mentor to young bigs like Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee.
From Utah's perspective, ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports that either Millsap or Al Jefferson (or both) is likely to go. Ebanks and Clark give the Jazz two cheap wings on expiring deals, and Gallinari gives them that go-to scorer on the perimeter they so sorely lack.
And if you're the Lakers, you're giving your blessing on this deal yesterday.
Millsap isn't a true stretch 4, but he can hit the three (41.4 percent on the season) and is an underrated defender as well.
This season Los Angeles has already been linked to Bell, who has succeeded under Mike D'Antoni in the past, is a proven three-point shooter (40.6 percent for his career) and instantly upgrades the team's perimeter defense.
As for Chandler, he's expensive, but he too upgrades the defense on the outside and is a versatile wing who has dominated offensively alongside D'Antoni before.
The Lakers would be wise to attempt and pry the expiring deal of Mozgov away from Denver, but if that proves to be a no-go, this deal is still perfect.
Like save-the-Lakers'-season perfect.