6 NBA Stars LA Lakers Could Be Poised to Target in Wake of Kobe Bryant's Injury
Obviously with the trade deadline already passed there won't be anything they can do until the summer.
But it isn't the Lakers style to go out and deal for young prospects. General Manager Mitch Kupchak will be looking for some big names and established talent to help Dwight Howard bring home a title as soon as possible.
Pau Gasol is likely to be the bait they use in any deal, as he's the only one on the roster capable of generating much interest.
With the way the Lakers are currently assembled, and no Bryant in the lineup, a scoring guard or wing becomes the team's biggest need.
Monta Ellis, Milwaukee Bucks
If Monta Ellis opts in to receive his $11 million next season, he could be an option for the Lakers to pursue.
Just thinking about an Ellis-Mike D'Antoni duo is exhausting.
Ellis could help replenish the scoring production lost without Kobe Bryant in the lineup. He could play alongside Steve Nash or behind him as a secondary ball-handler, giving the Lakers a two-dimensional offensive weapon who can create for himself or teammates.
With Ellis, Nash's usage rate can be lowered to what it should be for 39-year-old veterans.
But most importantly, the Lakers need someone who can generate their own offense from the perimeter.
Monta Ellis' value isn't what it once was, and this might be the time to try and buy low. Plus, the Milwaukee Bucks could actually use a post scorer like Gasol. This is a conversation that could potentially take place between the general managers of the two teams.
Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
The Lakers and the Boston Celtics are two teams that need to make a move.
Paul Pierce would be a target to help the Lakers win now, which is what Mitch Kupchak is likely gunning for. Pierce has the ability to pose as the team's go-to offensive option the way Kobe Bryant has for so long.
And though he doesn't score in volume the way Bryant does, that might actually be a good thing for a guy like Dwight Howard. Pierce also approaches his leadership role a little differently than Bryant, whose personality doesn't always go hand in hand with Howard's.
Pierce's experience and on-court discipline would be a plus for the playoffs, but it's his ability to generate offense that should be the skill L.A. covets.
Boston might have trouble fielding offers for Pierce if teams are asked to give up young assets. In Boston, Pau Gasol could slide into the center position and give Rajon Rondo another option up front.
This likely wouldn't be the only time the Lakers contemplated pursuing Paul Pierce. They haven't had a scorer at the small forward position in a while, and now they could use one more than ever.
DeMar DeRozan, Tornoto Raptors
DeMar DeRozan of Toronto Raptors fits the bill as a potential target for the Lakers.
He was just rewarded with a deal that will pay him $9 million for next season, so a guy like Amir Johnson or Landry Fields would have to be involved in a potential Pau Gasol deal. But a swap here makes sense and could benefit the rotations of both teams.
DeRozan is a true wing. You can play him at the 2 or the 3 because of his size, athleticism and skill set, which has developed quite nicely.
And to be frank, Rudy Gay and DeRozan doesn't make much sense from a floor-balance standpoint. After acquiring Gay, Toronto should be actively looking to move DeRozan to fill other leaks in the lineup.
Without Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have a glaring hole at the shooting guard and small forward positions. Over the past two years, DeRozan has really improved his isolation game, and he's now a solid option in half-court sets. Overall, the four-year veteran is averaging nearly 18 a game.
With Toronto lacking a post presence and the Lakers lacking a perimeter scorer, a deal centering around Gasol and DeRozan makes sense for both parties.
Eric Gordon, New Orleans Hornets
Eric Gordon should be thrown into this conversation after reports recently surfaced of him feuding with New Orleans head coach Monty Williams.
He's a high-risk, high-reward option for the Lakers. Gordon is owed nearly $45 million over the next two seasons, and he hasn't exactly been the poster boy for durability, missing 40 games this year and 57 of the team's 66 games last season.
But when healthy, he's a talent. Gordon can be a prolific scoring guard with the ability to generate his own offense and take over games.
Gordon's trade value right now is likely at an all-time low, and you'd have to believe the Hornets would be willing to listen to offers. Especially for Pau Gasol, who would give New Orleans a post scorer and veteran presence the lineup currently lacks.
The big issue here for the Lakers would be the financial commitment they'd have to make to an unreliable young player. But the risk could be worth the reward if Gordon can put his knee troubles behind him.
Arron Afflalo, Orlando Magic
With the addition of Tobias Harris and the emergence of Moe Harkless, Arron Afflalo becomes somewhat expendable for the Orlando Magic.
Afflalo is making over $7 million a year, so somebody else would have to be included in a deal that centers around Pau Gasol. The Magic do have supporting pieces (Al Harrington, Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu) to make this work and ones the Lakers could actually use.
This is something that could work out for both sides. Orlando could use a veteran presence in the lineup, while the Lakers could use Afflalo's two-way services on the wing.
Afflalo has really come into his own as a scorer over the past few years. He'd be an immediate offensive upgrade from the Lakers' current 2s and 3s, and he has the athleticism and mindset to defend opposing team's top scoring threats.
He's also entering the prime of his career. At 27 years old, there's no better time to tap into that talent.
This may not be option one on the Lakers list, but it's better than option none.
Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
Who better to replace Kobe Bryant from a leadership standpoint than Kevin Garnett?
The Lakers would get a true power forward to play alongside Dwight Howard, and someone who's likely to keep the big man attitude in check.
Garnett isn't the scoring wing that the Lakers need, but he's an acceptable plan B if plan A is unavailable.
Despite his age, Garnett has remained incredibly consistent over the past five years, averaging between 14 and 15 points per game without ever shooting below 49 percent. That type of reliability is something the Lakers can lean on with so many unknowns now in the lineup.
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