Even after the trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers are looking for ways to improve the roster.
According to Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld, the Jazz can release Bell, which would allow the Lakers to sign him:
If Jazz decide to buyout Raja Bell, the Lakers will try to sign the veteran guard. Bell is working out in Fort Lauderdale and wants to play.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) February 21, 2013
Adrian Wojnarowski previously reported Mike D'Antoni's interest in the guard and that it would cost $1.3 million to sign him if he is bought out by Utah. Apparently, the team would be willing to do this if the player can secure a deal elsewhere.
On paper, this seems like it would be a good move for the Lakers. He provides depth, defense and three-point shooting, three things that could use improvement on the squad.
However, his defense has certainly declined with age. While he was once one of the top on-ball defenders in the league, the 36-year-old has certainly lost a step over the years.
This does not even include the fact that he has not played regularly in over a year. Who knows what kind of shape he will be in when he returns?
That time off could also affect his three-point shooting. Once his playing time started to become scarce last season, Bell ended his year making only one of his final 11 shots from behind the arc over a two-month period.
He is also a much better shooter as a starter over his career (.411) compared to off the bench (.370) where he would play with the Lakers (via Basketball Reference).
If he is unable to provide these strengths at a high level, the weaknesses will be much more noticeable.
The first issue with the potential signing would be the cost. Considering the squad was unable to unload any player currently on the roster in a trade, someone will have to be released. This means that the Lakers will have to pay said players salary as well as the $1.3 million for Bell.
Should the Lakers sign Raja Bell if he becomes available?
Obviously, Los Angeles has plenty of money to spend, but it might not be worth the luxury tax cost.
Besides the money, Bell sets the team back in areas of need like youth and athleticism. His appearance on the court will not help the Lakers stay with a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder or Los Angeles Clippers.
Finally, the team has to be cautious about adding even more drama to an already volatile locker room.
Bell feuded with the coaching staff last season and it led to a severe reduction in playing time. Heading into this year, he was asked not to even show up to training camp, according to Matt Moore of Pro Basketball Talk.
This is not even mentioning the previous issues that he and Kobe Bryant had in the past. The two have had a rivalry for years as one of the best defenders in the league tried to stop one of the top scorers in Association history on multiple occasions.
With Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, the coaching staff has had a hard time getting all of the large personalities to coexist. Bell might just be adding gas to the fire.
Things have not gone according to plan for the Lakers this season, but the squad is finally heading in the right direction. They are currently only one spot out of the playoffs after winning nine of the last 13 games.
The front office should not just give up looking for move to improve the team. However, adding Raja Bell is not the answer to help the team at this time.