Lakers Trade Rumors Tracker: Latest Updates Ahead of NBA Trade Deadline

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IFebruary 4, 2013

Lakers Trade Rumors Tracker: Latest Updates Ahead of NBA Trade Deadline

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    As we look ahead to the NBA's trade deadline on Feb. 21, the Los Angeles Lakers have not looked like the title contender many believed they would be after acquiring Dwight Howard in August.

    As of this writing, they are under .500 for the season (22-26). They simply do not look like a championship contender (ranked 25th in points allowed per game).

    In fact, if the playoffs began today, the Lakers wouldn't even have the Western Conference's No. 8 seed.

    Howard, as well as power forward Pau Gasol, have found themselves in trade rumors. But will the Lakers ultimately trade one of them?

    Here's an updated look of trade rumors surrounding the Lakers.

LA Hoping to Free Up Roster Spots?

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    The Lakers are apparently growing tired of their crowded locker room and are now looking to free up some space on their roster as they head into the season's final stretch.

    According to Yahoo! Sports' NBA insider Adrian Wajnarowski, L.A. is offering up a handful of players in order to open up some space and perhaps acquire some draft picks in return:

    Lakers offering Steve Blake, Chris Duhon, Devin Ebanks, Darius Morris for 2nd-rounders, sources say. Looking to unload, free roster spots.

    — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 21, 2013

    If the Lakers are able to ship out some of their bench players, they will have the freedom to pursue a free agent or two this spring. Also, acquiring second-round picks would help the Lakers get younger and build through the draft.

Mitch Kupchak's Strong Words About Dwight Howard

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    Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak vehemently denied having any interest in trading Dwight Howard before the deadline, according to Steven Marcus of Newsday.

    Kupchak said, via the Newsday report:

    We will not make a trade. We will not trade Dwight Howard. We have no intention of making a trade. It's unlikely that we'll make any trade with any of our principal players. To make another change at this time of the year being behind the eight-ball like we are, I think that would just make it more difficult. The talent is there. We have to find our way.

    It's worth noting that plenty of general managers have said this before, only to eventually make a trade. If the Lakers are struggling at the deadline, that may change Kupchak's stance, especially considering there's no assurance that Howard stays in L.A. past this season.

    If a team offers a package that's too good to pass up, the Lakers could still make a big move, whether it be with Howard or someone else. After all, if it's not working with Howard, what's the point in keeping him, especially with Kobe Bryant yearning for a championship contender before retires?

Pau Gasol to the Raptors?

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    According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Toronto Raptors are open to shopping forward Andrea Bargnani.

    Despite already trading for Rudy Gay, Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo isn't afraid to take on more money in the "right transaction," per Stein. One source reportedly told Stein that Gasol is a player Colangelo would consider.

    Of course, that depends on Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, who appears lukewarm on the idea of making a big trade before the deadline in the first place.

    On the other hand, while Bargnani is in the middle of one of the worst shooting seasons of his career, he does offer the ability to space the floor and hit three-pointers, which would probably work better for the Lakers with Dwight Howard manning the post.

Dwight Howard Headed out of LA?

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    While Mitch Kupchak has been rather adamant that he won't trade Dwight Howard before the deadline, you have to wonder if that sentiment will change.

    For one, there is no assurance that Howard will re-sign with the Lakers before he hits free agency after the season. 

    Secondly, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com, Howard was unhappy with head coach Mike D'Antoni in late January. Sources said that he had soured on D'Antoni's system, as well as other teammates.

    According to the report, some players—including Howard—believed the Lakers should be using a slow-tempo, inside-out approach to the offense. That, of course, is not D'Antoni's forte.

    Of course, as of Feb. 4, the Lakers had won five of six games since the report on Jan. 23. The success or failure of the team moving forward may determine what Los Angeles decides to do with Howard.