Playing Buy or Sell with Latest LA Lakers Trade Rumors and Free-Agent Buzz

Ben LeibowitzCorrespondent IIIJuly 7, 2013

Playing Buy or Sell with Latest LA Lakers Trade Rumors and Free-Agent Buzz

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    Surprising nobody, the Los Angeles Lakers have been involved with numerous offseason rumors and free-agent buzz. Now that Dwight Howard has decided to sign with the Houston Rockets, a Lakers franchise in disarray will have to move quickly to formulate a backup plan.

    With a considerable amount of money invested in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace for next season, the options aren’t exactly plentiful. Waiting out the D12 saga, while numerous free agents signed elsewhere, didn’t help either.

    The Lakers have been associated with plenty of news in free agency, so it’s time to play buy or sell with the rumors as realistic or unconvincing.

Lakers Targeting Monta Ellis?

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    Even though Monta Ellis would likely thrive in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo, offensive style of play, the overall timing and fit of this move doesn’t make much sense at all.

    According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the Lakers had interest in Ellis when he opted out of his deal with the Milwaukee Bucks. However, the Lakers’ curiosity with Ellis likely stemmed from his relationship with Dwight Howard. Considering the money both of the guys would garner, this signing was a long shot to begin with.

    Adding Ellis now would be nothing more than a Band-Aid applied to heal a gaping wound. His presence wouldn’t fill the void left by Howard, and he plays the same position as Kobe Bryant, who isn’t going anywhere.

    This story had “rumor” tattooed all over it form the outset. Don’t be fooled by further reports like these, because the Lakers are not going to add big chunks of salary on players who won’t make them an immediate contender.

    Like it or not, the Lakers are in a transition period unless they can make things happen via addition by subtraction (don't rule it out).

     

    Verdict: Sell

Lakers to Sign-and-Trade Dwight?

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    This offseason rumor has been whirling about for quite some time, but it shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

    Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times originally reported the rumor that the Lakers would take back Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes to orchestrate a sign-and-trade deal with the Golden State Warriors. Obviously that didn’t come to fruition.

    The Lakers could choose to take back either Omer Asik or Jeremy Lin from the Houston Rockets moving forward, but Howard Beck and Nate Taylor of The New York Times wrote that the Lakers would rather let the big man walk in order to preserve cap flexibility.

    Losing Dwight Howard for nothing this summer would be devastating, but taking back players under contract for the long term that don’t fit a long-term plan isn’t what Mitch Kupchak and Co. want to do.

    Considering the massive salaries on the books for next season: Kobe Bryant (more than $30.4 million), Pau Gasol (more than $19.2 million), Steve Nash (approximately $9.3 million) and Metta World Peace (more than $7.7 million), the Lakers should worry more about cutting payroll rather than adding it.

     

    Verdict: Sell

Lakers Reach out to L.O.

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    The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly reached out to Lamar Odom in free agency, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, and it's a move that makes a lot of sense for the Lakers.

    Now that Howard is officially packing his bags en route to Houston, adding valuable role players around Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol is the most logical step moving forward. Obviously, Odom fits for a variety of reasons.

    First off, he's a former Laker who won two championships with Bryant in 2009 and 2010. He can also play multiple positions, which is a huge plus in Mike D’Antoni’s coaching system. Last, but certainly not least, Odom will likely join the roster for a cheap price given his recent statistical decline and evident desire to play basketball in Los Angeles.

    As an older team that was crippled by injuries last season, gaining depth via Odom is a perfect fit. It would be a low-cost, low-risk move for the dejected Lakers.

     

    Verdict: Buy

Lakers to Sign Veteran Elton Brand?

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    The Lakers are reportedly interested in former No. 1 overall pick Elton Brand, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne via Twitter. Shelburne adds, however, that the veteran power forward may be out of the team’s price range.

    Money is one factor, but another is the overall fit. Adding another “old guy” to the roster doesn’t make much sense unless he slides in seamlessly with the system. When said “old guy” is as poor of a fit in Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system as Brand is, seeing this rumor become reality certainly seems like a long shot.

    He’s a good leader with a high basketball IQ, but the Lakers are better off adding youth and outside shooters during what they hope will be a brief transition period.

     

    Verdict: Sell

Vujacic Back to Los Angeles?

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    A familiar face could return to Lakerland for the 2013-14 season.

    Arash Markazi of ESPN said via Twitter that Slovenian guard Sasha Vujacic has been in touch with the Lakers and will return to the NBA next year according to a source. His first choice is to return to the team he spent more than six seasons with from 2004-2011.

    Vujacic hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2010-11 season when he split time between the Lakers and New Jersey Nets. Despite the lengthy absence from NBA basketball, he’s still just 29 years old.

    He’s no longer a youngster, but Vujacic could fill a dual purpose for the Lakers. He'd either be a serviceable point guard behind Steve Nash and Steve Blake (should either or both of them suffer injuries), or a solid backup shooting guard behind Jodie Meeks while Kobe Bryant rehabs from injury to start the 2013-14 year.

    Above all, Vujacic provides depth off the bench (something that the Lakers have been missing for a while). If nothing else, there appears to be mutual interest between the two parties.

     

    Verdict: Buy