When you're a team as talented and as highly publicized as the Los Angeles Lakers, there are always going to be lots of rumors and speculation surrounding your franchise. That's especially true when you're a team that has struggled as much as the Lakers have for much of the season.
Full of valuable assets and without the success to reflect that, there's always the possibility of a big trade occurring. That's been the situation that the Lakers have found themselves in recently—with teams contacting them for trades or with internal forces questioning whether they need to make a major move.
But just because a trade is explored, it doesn't mean that a trade will actually go through. So many times, there is a ton of smoke with very little actual fire. That could be the situation that the Lakers find themselves in following the trade deadline. Here are the odds of the Lakers' biggest trade rumors going from smoke to fire.
The Lakers Trading Pau Gasol for Rudy Gay
This is a proposal that was first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN. According to Stein, it would be a three-team trade involving another big-name player other than Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay. That other player would be Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics.
In the speculative trade, Los Angeles would send Gasol to the Celtics, Boston would send Pierce to Memphis, and the Grizzlies would send Rudy Gay to the Lakers.
As Stein says, "Sources say that the Celtics and Grizzlies have indeed held some exploratory trade talks since Gay hit the market."
However, there's no confirmation of the Lakers being involved in any of those scenarios. Furthermore, as Stein points out, there have been rumblings for years of the Celtics dealing Pierce, which they've obviously not done yet. Even with the injury to Rajon Rondo, it's difficult to imagine the Celtics dealing Pierce at this stage of his career.
Odds of the trade happening: 1-to-5.
The Lakers Trading Pau Gasol
It was reported by Ken Berger of CBS Sports that Pau Gasol will not request a trade before the deadline.
"Not right now," Gasol said when asked if he or anyone on his behalf would lodge a trade request before the deadline. "I don't think now is the time for that step to happen. Right now I'm very focused and committed to our team."
Despite Gasol's unwillingness to request a trade, he made it clear that he's not happy with coming off the bench, even though he'd accept it for now.
It's hard for anybody who considers himself one of the top players in the world to say, 'OK, I'm OK with coming off the bench.' It's a difficult situation that we've been dealing with here. The last few games have been great, and we're staying positive and we look forward to that to continue. But at the same time, we don't need any other distractions, any more negativity. We need positive embracing, we need focus, we need to support each other. That's where we're at and that's where I'm at, too.
However, he did go on to say that he doesn't view himself as a reserve player for the long term and that he wouldn't be willing to come off the bench beyond this season.
I've been on this team, in this city, for six years. It's very hard to stick around on this team, and I take pride in that. I think I'm a valuable asset and I want my role to be as big as it can be, within the well being of the team. But I don't know if being a player that comes off the bench will be something that I'll be able to accept long term.
Right now I want this team to work. I feel we have a very privileged team with great athletes. It's been a crazy year for everyone, and I understand that. And the last thing I'll be here is selfish right now. So I'm willing to work with what we have right now for the rest of the year and have no problems, because I want it to work. And I'm not a guy that just quits on himself or on his team.
So Gasol won't request a trade this season. Apparently, he's also willing to accept coming off the bench through the end of the year. That would seem to indicate that the odds of the Lakers trading him are slim. Not to mention the fact that Gasol is owed $19.1 million, meaning Los Angeles would have to take on a lot of salary just to move him.
One option would be to flip Gasol for some expiring contracts if they were to trade him. But in that scenario, the Lakers would be unlikely to recoup equal value. In order to get a good return for Pau, they would likely have to take on some long-term contracts, which the team is probably unwilling to do.
That doesn't even begin to tackle the fact that the Lakers have been playing much better of late. If there were ever a time throughout this season where they didn't want to mix things up, this would probably be it.
Odds of the Lakers trading Pau Gasol: 1-to-4.
The Lakers Trading Dwight Howard to Brooklyn
Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne reported last week that the Lakers were considering trading Dwight Howard before the trade deadline.
Part of their considerations were due to the fact that Howard might not want to sign a long-term contract with the Lakers if Mike D'Antoni remained the head coach.
No team was listed as a potential trade partner in their article. But it's fair to point out that with Howard's expiring contract following the season, any team that acquires him would likely want an assurance that he'd re-sign in the offseason.
With that being the case, ESPN's Chris Broussard says that the only two teams that Howard might be willing to give a long-term commitment to would be the Los Angeles Clippers and the Brooklyn Nets. As Broussard points out, there's no way that the Lakers would trade Howard to the Clippers, leaving Brooklyn as the only viable option.
The most recent reporting on the subject, from Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, indicates that the Lakers are now unwilling to deal Howard before the deadline. Instead, they'll wait until the summer and take their chances that Howard re-signs, knowing all too well that if he doesn't, they will likely get nothing in return.
The main reason why any trade of Howard is unlikely to happen is because of the team's recent resurgence. Nobody questioned the talent on the roster, it was just whether or not they could make it work with the pieces that they had. We're finally starting to get indications that it can.
When trading someone of Howard's caliber, you're not going to get equal value in return. So the only reason to trade him is if you don't think you can win with him. In that case, you might as well cut your losses. But since the Lakers might be turning things around, their potential for winning a championship is much greater with Dwight than it is without him.
Odds of trading Howard to Brooklyn: 1-to-10.
The Lakers Trading Howard as Part of Sign-and-Trade Following Season
All signs point to the Lakers sinking or swimming with Howard at center for the rest of the season. Assuming this recent turnaround isn't just a flash in the pan, the team would likely have an inside edge in re-signing him.
However, if the Lakers revert back to what they've been for much of the season and miss the playoffs, the chances of Howard re-signing decrease. Los Angeles would still have the upper hand because of its ability to sign him to a larger contract, but Howard would likely still have a bad taste in his mouth from the whole situation.
If the Lakers become aware that Howard's departure is imminent, then they could try to execute a sign-and-trade for him to at least recoup some value. However, as Tom Haberstroh of ESPN explains, the odds of that happening are slim.
If Howard walks, the Lakers won't have a sign-and-trade at their disposal this upcoming summer under a new rule in the CBA, because they would still likely be over the tax apron. In other words, they couldn't reel in imminent free agents Josh Smith or Andrew Bynum even if they wanted to.
As Haberstroh points out, the only way that the Lakers can execute a sign-and-trade under the new CBA is if they somehow get under the luxury tax threshold. Given their current salary situation, that's extremely unlikely to happen before the offseason.
At this point it seems like they only have two options: re-sign Howard in the offseason or let him walk with getting absolutely nothing in return.
Odds of trading Howard as part of a sign-and-trade: 1-to-1,000.
You'll notice that the odds of the Lakers making any of these moves are slim. That's partially because of the salaries involved, decreasing the team's flexibility in what it gets in return. It's also due to L.A.'s recent resurgence. If it can put everything together with the talent that it has, no trade is going to significantly help it more than the roster that's already assembled.
From this day forward, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, this team is a marriage that's destined to last until the end of the season.
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