The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the more intriguing teams to watch coming out of the All-Star break. They are four games below .500 and direly need to start winning in order to make the playoffs.
If L.A. is going to turn things around or make a blockbuster move, the team needs to hurry. There simply isn’t time to wait around and hope things get better, plus the trading deadline is mere hours away. The window to make a deal closes at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Let’s take a look at the latest buzz surrounding the organization in today’s news and rumor roundup.
Howard Not Going Anywhere at Deadline
While some Lakers fans might wish to see Dwight Howard get hit with the door on his way out of town, general manager Mitch Kupchak isn’t ready to give up on his prized offseason acquisition.
According to Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio, the GM has made it readily apparent that D12 isn’t going to be moved at the upcoming trade deadline, even if he may walk away in unrestricted free agency this summer.
Kobe Bryant has reportedly given his blessing (as per Amico) for the star center to be shipped off in the next day. The Lakers' veterans have also apparently questioned Howard’s commitment, but the franchise direly needs the big man to make a postseason push.
If Howard can start playing up to his All-NBA capabilities and bring his Defensive Player of the Year intensity, the team could definitely make the playoffs as a high seed. The Lake Show just needs to go on a winning streak in order to push to the next level.
Giving up on such a high-upside player just because he’s slumped for the first half of the season isn’t the right call here. Kupchak is wise to continue to sink or swim with his summer decision to trade for D12.
Howard Unhappy in L.A.
Even if the Lakers do sneak into the playoffs in 2013, there is a chance he abandons ship after this campaign ends.
According to ESPN’s Chris Palmer, D12 isn’t happy with the situation in Los Angeles and will be signing with a new team come July.
The chemistry just isn’t there, as the big man continues to clash with the Black Mamba and other teammates. Dwight has also fallen out of favor with the fanbase, as he isn’t living up to the lofty expectations set when he was traded from the Orlando Magic last summer.
Through 48 games this season, Howard has averaged just 16.3 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, a bit below his career numbers. He’s also been dealing with nagging injuries and clearly not the same after offseason back surgery.
It’ll be interesting to see if a deep run through the playoffs can change his mind, but right now it seems D12 already has one foot out the door.
D’Antoni Wants Raja
Many were expecting the Lakers to pursue a big man after Pau Gasol went down for a couple of weeks with an injury, but it seems coach Mike D'Antoni would prefer another guard in his stable.
The 36-year-old veteran had his best seasons playing for D’Antoni’s Suns and is a notoriously stingy defender. His numerous playoff battles against Kobe Bryant are a testament to his skills defensively.
Bell hasn’t sniffed the floor during the 2012-13 campaign, but holds career averages of 9.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Bell also shoots the three-ball at a 40.6 percent clip.
He’d make a good fit as a backup in L.A., so it will be worth monitoring if the Lakers can find a way to pry him off the Utah roster.