The Los Angeles Lakers, like any other team experiencing its fair share of uncertainty during the regular season, may need some help. Despite having shown a serious momentum shift after the All-Star break, the Lakers wouldn't have been hurt by making a few moves at the trade deadline.
Adding a little bit of depth defensively and perhaps getting younger in the roster could have been the changes L.A. needed to get back on track. With all of the trade rumors that have been circulating since the offseason, it's difficult to narrow the biggest potential moves to just a few. However, we'll break down the three that would have been the most pivotal.
Moving bench commodities for draft space
Due to a series of trades during the past few seasons, including last year’s trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ramon Sessions and the blockbuster sign-and-trade deal that brought Steve Nash to L.A. this past offseason, the Lakers’ options for the 2013 NBA draft can potentially become very slim.
With this team still in rebuilding mode, draft picks at this point are as good as gold. And depending on how well the Lakers and the teams associated with previous trades, including Cleveland and the Memphis Grizzlies, do, L.A. could end up as spectators during the entire first round.
One way to resolve the issue is to clean house with regard to the team’s bench. Players like Steve Blake, Robert Sacre and Devin Ebanks are completely expendable for the Lakers, and they obviously wouldn’t be involved in any big-name trade that makes the headlines the following day.
How high is the trade stock of the Lakers' bench?
However, it is for this exact same reason that makes them so valuable in moving up in the draft order. A possible trade to other rebuilding teams like the Charlotte Bobcats for higher draft picks and other considerations would have put the Lakers in prime position to start getting some younger talent in time to change the guard, with players like Nash and Kobe Bryant certainly nearing the end of their illustrious careers.
Testing the trade stocks of up-and-comers
While some of the Lakers’ bench may only be good for draft pick fillers, others could’ve brought L.A. some serious results due to their rising stock. Quite possibly the biggest name that could have resulted in a rather surprising trade is Earl Clark.
Clark was brought to the Lakers as part of the trade that welcomed Dwight Howard to the Lake Show and up until a few months ago, was seen as a simple afterthought. Clark is now capitalizing on filling the gap of an injured Pau Gasol and has done nothing but post excellent numbers since gaining the starting job.
With his player potential on the rise, the trade deadline would have been the perfect time to ship Clark away to obtain some other names that have the talent without the star power.
Ending Gasol’s time in purple and gold
The biggest name to be involved in Lakers trade rumors for the past two season has got to be Pau Gasol. The 11-year vet’s ability to be the defensive threat of old has been brought into question, and some are wondering if he’s even worth the trouble anymore. Earning the nickname, “Gasoft” by the Laker faithful, it’s evident that many view Gasol as incapable of being the monster at defense his team needs him to be.
With that said, the biggest move L.A. could have made is to trade Gasol away to a team that could still benefit from having a player of his caliber. One team comes to mind that would appreciate having Gasol around is the team he knows all too well. In what was once seen as an all-but-certain situation, it was rumored that the Memphis Grizzlies were willing to offer up fellow veteran Zach Randolph in order to bring Gasol back to the team that started it all for him in the NBA.
While the Lakers would not have gotten any younger with the trade, they would’ve been a bit stronger in the paint with the acquisition of Randolph. And sending Gasol back to Memphis would have been the ideal situation for him; unlike his previous stint there, he would not have to be the go-to forward anymore. He would now serve as a mentor to younger brother Marc, who many describe as a reincarnation of what Pau used to be.
Nevertheless, the trade deadline has come and gone, and the Lakers played the role of the proverbial sitting ducks. This doesn’t mean that all is lost, though. L.A. has a strong enough team and a quickly improving chemistry that can really turn things around for this year’s squad.