Reassessing L.A. Lakers' Title Odds Post-NBA Trade Deadline

Ehran Khan@@ekhansworldContributor IIIFebruary 23, 2013

Dwight Howard will remain with the least until the end of the season.
Dwight Howard will remain with the least until the end of the season.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The NBA trade deadline came and went without the Los Angeles Lakers making any moves at all.

General manager Mitch Kupchak went on national radio and made it clear that Dwight Howard wasn't going anywhere. He also conceded that given Pau Gasol's injury, he was not going to be dealt at this juncture.

So, where does that leave the Lakers in the grand scheme of things?

Well, considering how little activity there was league-wide, they're pretty much in the same place as they were before Thursday's deadline passed.

If you really want to pick nits, L.A.'s road to the playoffs may have gotten just slightly more difficult based on the moves made by their competitors for the last two playoff seeds.

The Portland Trailblazers acquired backup point guard Eric Maynor from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Portland desperately needs any help they can get for their paltry bench, and they haven't had a legitimate backup for their rookie sensation Damian Lillard all season long.

After garnering a lot of praise for his heady play early in his career, Maynor's minutes with the Thunder have dried up. He's coming off of an ACL tear, which may have something to do with being benched in favor of Reggie Jackson. Based on his play so far this year, the addition of Maynor won't shift the needle much for the Blazers.

The other team just behind the Lakers in the standings, the Dallas Mavericks, shipped veteran wing Dahntay Jones to the Atlanta Hawks for sharpshooter Anthony Morrow.

Jones had done absolutely nothing for Dallas this season, other than soak up close to 13 forgettable minutes per game. Morrow—who has been relegated to mostly watching from the sidelines -- can contribute to the Mavericks with his ability to stroke the basketball from deep.

Morrow is a career 43 percent shooter from beyond the arc, who led the NBA in three-point accuracy in 2009. Unlike Jones, his outside shot has to be shown respect, and his floor spacing will create more lanes for the other Mavs on offense.

Dallas ranks outside the top 10 in offensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage—two important metrics that Morrow's skill set can aid.

The Lakers will square off with Dallas in their next game, so it will be a good benchmark to judge themselves against the new-look Mavs.

Meanwhile, notorious trade artist Daryl Morey struck again, swinging a potentially rewarding deal for the Houston Rockets, the team the Lakers are trying to track down for the West's final playoff spot.

Houston made a three-for-three swap that sent Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich and Toney Douglas to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Francisco Garcia, Tyler Honeycutt and the No. 5 overall pick in last June's draft, Thomas Robinson.

In a separate deal, the Rockets also flipped forward Marcus Morris to the Phoenix Suns for a second-round pick.

While Houston traded away the two guys that started at power forward for them all season, neither Patterson nor Morris is anything more than an interchangeable part. If anything, opening up that power forward spot to either the incoming Robinson or rookies Donatas Motiejunas or Terrence Jones could bump the Rockets up a level. 

Those three rookies have a much higher ceiling than the two guys Houston shipped out. If any of them seizes the opportunity and plays up to their potential, then the Rockets will certainly hold on to their playoff spot and may even rise in the standings.

After considering everything that went down around the trade deadline, the Lakers competition for a playoff berth got a tiny bit fiercer. But overall, their odds at an increasingly unlikely title run remain about the same as it already was.'s playoff odds give the Lakers a 0.2 percent chance of winning the 2013 NBA championship. That's as good a number as any to put on it.