Role Players LA Lakers Could Target to Salvage Season
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If you asked a Los Angeles Lakers fan prior to the start of the season what the worst-case scenario for the team would be as they headed into the All-Star break, not one of them would have predicted a fall from grace this steep.
The Lakers sit four games under .500 in 10th place in the West. With less than a week to go before the NBA trade deadline passes, there isn't much time left to find outside help.
Thanks to Pau Gasol's recent injury, it's clear that the Lakers won't be making any major shakeups to the roster. At best they can swap some low-salaried players in order to pick up a valuable role player.
Here are six possible fits for L.A. to target at the deadline.
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With the type of system Mike D'Antoni likes to run, shooters are always at a premium.
There's none better out there than Kyle Korver. The man who holds the record for the highest three-point percentage in a season is at it again, leading the NBA in that mark once more.
Korver's 46 percent conversion rate from deep would easily be tops on the Lakers. With his contract expiring at season's end, the Hawks may make Korver available.
If so, the Lakers should definitely give Atlanta a call. An offer of Jordan Hill and Devin Ebanks' expiring contract would work financially.
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A three-and-D player like Courtney Lee is a valuable piece in any system. However, the fourth-year guard has struggled to fit in with the Celtics, having his worst shooting season from three-point range.
This sudden drop-off in long-range accuracy has happened once before with Lee, as he went from shooting better than 40 percent from three as a rookie in Orlando to shooting under 34 percent the following season in New Jersey.
Lee promptly bounced back from that to connect on 40 percent of his triples in each of the last two seasons with the Rockets. A change of scenery may breathe some life back into his offensive game.
His defense cannot be emphasized enough either. He would instantly become the Lakers' top backcourt defender. A Celtics team desperate for size and rebounding may want to get out of Lee's long-term contract by turning it into the Hill-Ebanks combo.
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It's been a steep fall for Dorell Wright, who was averaging better than 16 points and playing more than 38 minutes per game as one of the leading candidates for the Most Improved Player award just two seasons ago for the Warriors.
Wright has been an afterthought with the Sixers this season, mostly because of the glut of wings Philly has. He's in the final year of his deal and can be had straight-up for Jordan Hill.
The Lakers could use a sharpshooter like Wright, who led the league in three-pointers made in 2010-11. His length and athleticism would help defensively on the wing as well.
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Speaking of sharpshooters, Martell Webster is enjoying a career year thanks to an improved three-point stroke.
He is currently sixth in the NBA in three-point percentage, knocking down 44 percent of his triples. Also, he trails only Kevin Durant, Kyle Korver, LeBron James and Steve Nash among non-big men in true shooting percentage.
Webster would make an ideal trade target for the Lakers because his small salary fits nicely into the injured player exception L.A. got for Jordan Hill.
Unfortunately, the Lakers have already given away a bundle of future picks and used up their outgoing cash allotment for the season, so it's hard to see what the Wizards could get in return.
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The Sacramento Kings may currently be the league's most dysfunctional franchise, and that hurts the stock of every player on the roster, including Jimmer Fredette,
After a lackluster rookie campaign, Fredette has played well in limited minutes this season. His three-point stroke has come back as he has hit 42 percent of his threes on the year, good for 17th in the NBA.
Fredette has also upped both his usage rate and his free-throw rate this year and is averaging nearly 19 points per 36 minutes. If the Lakers can lay their hands on him, Jimmer can come off the bench and score in bunches.
He's a poor man's Stephen Curry and can be acquired for expiring contracts like Devin Ebanks and Darius Morris if he's not in the Kings' future plans.
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It's been a real bounce-back year for Vince Carter, who has reinvented himself in Dallas as an off-the-bench scorer and long-range bomber. That's a role he can fill for the Lakers as well, as L.A. lacks a player with his skill set.
Carter is shooting 40 percent on three-pointers this season and has picked up his intensity on the defensive end of the floor. In fact, ESPN.com's Bradford Doolittle recently ranked Carter as the league's eighth-best perimeter defender. (No, really).
The salary attached to Carter is very manageable as well, as he earns $3.1 million this year and just a hair under $3.2 million next year.
The Lakers can trade Dallas Jordan Hill for Carter straight-up if the Mavs think Hill can contribute for them next season. Or L.A. can send them Chris Duhon (whose contract is only partially guaranteed for 2013-14) if Dallas craves a bit more cap room.