If only one word can be used to describe the state of the Los Angeles Lakers, it's "confusion." Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles reports that the Lakers failed to sell out a home game for the first time in 320 contests, the stars are injured and the young players are mixing promise with inconsistency.
As one might imagine, there is no shortage of rumors emerging in the midst of this madness in Los Angeles.
Kobe Bryant is still sidelined while he recovers from a torn Achilles tendon. Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times reports that general manager Mitch Kupchak doesn't expect Bryant to return within a timetable of two weeks.
To make matters worse, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News reports that Steve Nash required an epidural to decrease inflammation in his back. Nash has already missed four of the Lakers' first 10 games, including each of their past two.
In turn, some have begun to question how long Nash will remain with the Lakers.
Steve Nash on the Move? Lakers Seeking a PG?
This is the second consecutive season in which injuries have played a major role in Nash's on-court effectiveness. More significantly, leg and back ailments have impacted Nash's availability, and that's why L.A. is rumored to be thinking ahead.
According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.com, Nash could end up with his home country Toronto Raptors.
Steve Nash is another vet who may be traded this year. I've heard Toronto as a possible landing spot for Nash from multiple league sources.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) November 4, 2013
The deal makes sense for Toronto, and it could also work out well for Los Angeles.
It's no secret that the Lakers waited too long to address the lack of athleticism on their roster. In each of the past three seasons, Los Angeles' above-30 core of players has seen a decline in explosiveness and the supporting cast hasn't improved.
The Raptors have a solid and under-utilized wing in Landry Fields, who could help the financial aspects of the deal line up, and an expiring contract with point guard D.J. Augustin that could fit L.A.'s needs.
According to Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio, that last bit of information could be the key. Amico reports that executives around the league have told him that the Lakers are looking to acquire another point guard due to Nash's injury.
Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times disputed that claim via Twitter.
Lakers not looking to add a guard at this point, btw. It'll be a wait-and-see with Nash.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) November 13, 2013
Talk about a state of uncertainty.
Health aside, Nash is still a veteran presence that any team would benefit from having in its locker room. When the health factor is weighed, however, the Lakers would be foolish to write off the possibility of trading the 39-year-old.
That doesn't mean a deal should be executed, but L.A. is going to pay Nash $9,701,000 in 2014-15. That could be the difference between signing the necessary complementary pieces in free agency and moving forward with a relatively similar core to the 2013-14 squad.
The Lakers need to start thinking ahead, and that's why Nash has become somewhat expendable as he approaches 40.
Pau Gasol to Be Traded?
Stop me if you've heard this before: Lakers big man Pau Gasol is at the center of trade rumors. It's that time of year when the four-time All-Star and two-time NBA champion is being involved in every potential trade scenario you could imagine.
Just because we're accustomed to reading rumors of Gasol's potential departure doesn't mean it won't happen.
According to Sam Smith of NBA.com, the belief around the league is that the Lakers are hesitant to allow Gasol to walk for nothing when he becomes a free agent this offseason. The general consensus is that his time in Los Angeles is done, and L.A. is looking to get something in return before he signs elsewhere.
It's hard to criticize that approach.
Gasol is 33 and has seen his production hit career lows during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 regular seasons. No one will question his skill as a low-post player, but he's struggled to find his niche in Mike D'Antoni's perimeter and transition-oriented offense.
If the option is present for Los Angeles to trade Gasol and receive adequate compensation, it's a deal worth considering.
Should the Los Angeles Lakers trade Pau Gasol?
Smith proposes a return to Memphis, with the Lakers receiving All-Star power forward Zach Randolph in exchange. Gasol would unite with brother and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol and close friend Mike Miller.
As for Randolph, Smith reports that the Grizzlies are looking to trade the 32-year-old.
Regardless of which player the Lakers set their sights on, trading Gasol isn't as bad of an idea as it was in past seasons. The Lakers will need a career year from Kobe Bryant to be anywhere near the NBA championship conversation, and even then, the supporting cast is both injury-plagued and inconsistent.
The trade rumors have existed for quite some time, but there's reason to believe the Lakers may actually pull the trigger on a Gasol deal in 2013-14. Either way, don't expect the madness in Los Angeles to dissipate in the near future.