The Los Angeles Lakers continue to look for ways to improve the roster—not just for this season but for the future as well. Adding Iman Shumpert would be an upgrade in both respects.
ESPN's Chris Broussard first reported that there could be a possible deal between the Lakers and the New York Knicks:
The Lakers recently called the Knicks to express their interest in Iman Shumpert, according to sources close to the situation. No trade is imminent, and sources say the Lakers' call was more about doing their due diligence; it's well-known Shumpert is available.
Broussard also reports that Los Angeles was considering a trade between Pau Gasol and Tyson Chandler.
This deal between centers has gotten more attention due to the fact that it would be a blockbuster trade between two All-Stars. However, the Lakers have to stop adding players that do not fit into Mike D'Antoni's system.
Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times recently quoted Gasol voicing his concerns with the style of play:
The fact that I'm not getting the ball in the post affects directly my aggressiveness. When I'm not getting the ball where I want to, where I'm most effective, where I can bang guys and utilize my skill, that affects my aggressiveness and overall intensity.
Additionally, veteran Chris Kaman has also been less than pleased with his role on the team, via ESPN's Ramona Shelburne:
Chris Kaman said he's trying to stay upbeat despite falling out of Lakers rotation, but "It’s absolutely not what I was looking for."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) December 16, 2013
Although Chandler provides value on the defensive end, he would once again be a back-to-the-basket center who would struggle to keep up in the fast-paced system.
Instead of cluttering the frontcourt, the Lakers should clear things up by dealing Gasol for a player who could actually help out on both sides of the ball, like Shumpert.
Primarily, the third-year player provides something that the Lakers have lacked for a few years: athleticism. He has shown time and again the ability to get himself into the lane and finish above the rim with huge dunks. This makes him tough to guard, and it adds a new dimension to the offense.
It also gives Shumpert an edge on the defensive end, where the guard excels. He is a great on-ball defender who can stop both guard positions as well as small forwards. This will immediately help improve one of the worst defenses in the NBA this season.
Should the Lakers try to acquire Iman Shumpert?
Lack of athleticism has been a huge problem for the team, especially against younger teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers. That will change with this acquisition.
Of course, Shumpert will also be able to provide the shooting ability that D'Antoni craves from his guards. Although he can be streaky, the young player hit 40.2 percent of his shots from behind the arc last season.
Finally, the former Georgia Tech star played point guard in college and can easily slide into the role, at least on a part-time basis. This is a serious need for the Lakers for as long as Steve Nash and Steve Blake are out.
As Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report notes, the Kobe Bryant experiment at point guard is fun, but not always effective:
Kobe continues to be the most exciting point guard in basketball: two assists, four turnovers in six minutes. LAL 12, ATL 9.— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) December 17, 2013
Chris Sheridan speculates that a deal for Shumpert could be done if the Lakers send back Kaman:
Considering Kaman has fallen out of the rotation and is clearly disgruntled with his current situation, that would not be too bad of a deal. Even if the team has to give up more, it would still be a worthwhile move.
Shumpert has been dealing with trade rumors for the past few weeks and is clearly getting tired of it. According to Scott Cacciola of the New York Times, the player recently said:
I just want to play, man, I just want to win. I know I can’t predict the future. I can’t say what anybody’s going to do, with all the trade rumors that are going on. There’s nothing I can do about it. All I can do is play hard.
This certainly might have affected his play as he has gone through a bit of a slide of late. Still, things should be better once his future is secure, which could happen following a trade.
The Lakers would be able to bring in an athletic, young player who can upgrade the starting lineup and help get the team back to the playoffs. If he continues to improve, he could be a key part of the future for the organization.
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