The Los Angeles Lakers roster is rife with issues, but the team isn’t looking to make a panic move just yet. In fact, the Lakers recently had a chance to make a slight change in their injury-riddled backcourt, but declined to do so.
According to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, the Memphis Grizzlies offered L.A. Jerryd Bayless in exchange for Jodie Meeks, but nothing came to fruition.
Standing pat was a wise decision on the part of the Lakers brass, as Meeks is in the midst of a career year and is one of the few bright spots for the team.
The 26-year-old is averaging 12.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 steals in 30.3 minutes per game, all career highs.
Meeks is shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 41.4 percent from beyond the arc, which, if he can maintain them, will also hold up as the best figures of the shooting guard’s five-year tenure in the league.
While Bucher noted that the Grizzlies were hoping to shake up their roster after a disappointing 12-15 start to the 2013-14 campaign, they seem to be valuing Bayless a bit too highly.
The 25-year-old is putting up just 7.9 points, 2.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 21.0 minutes per game. His shooting splits are in the gutter, as he’s connecting on just 36.1 percent of his field goal attempts and 27.4 percent on three-point tries.
It’s clear as day that Meeks is the better player this season, and his $1.5 million salary is extremely reasonable for the tax-paying Lakers. Considering Bayless is owed $3.1 million this year, L.A. would have to throw in another piece to make the proposed deal work under the cap.
Perhaps the only reason why the Lakers would possibly take a second to give this trade offer some thought is that Bayless is a better ball-handler and could come in to run the offense in a pinch.
L.A. is struggling to find consistent, healthy play at the point guard position due to a rash of injuries to veterans Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar.
Kobe Bryant came back from a torn Achilles to start at the 1 for a short stretch, but a left knee fracture has him sidelined again for up to six weeks.
The Lakers were so desperate for warm bodies at the position that Kendall Marshall, a former lottery pick, was plucked from the D-League and inked to a deal on Dec. 19.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni spoke with Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times about the signing: "What he'll bring is good ballhandling. He's a very heady basketball player. He's improved his shot."
Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld noted that Xavier Henry was next in line at the PG spot had the team not signed Marshall to a contract.
The Lakers signed Kendall Marshall to improve their point guard depth. They were going to play Xavier Henry at PG after Kobe Bryant injury.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) December 20, 2013
Farmar was back in the lineup for a Christmas Day matchup with the defending champion Miami Heat, but managed a meager three points on 1-of-7 shooting. Marshall logged a “DNP-Coach’s Decision,” proving that he’s not the answer for L.A.
Did the Lakers make the smart decision to keep Meeks?
Bayless would certainly be an upgrade at the position, but he’s not worth losing Meeks, who scored 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting in the contest, to acquire him.
L.A. may be bound for the lottery anyway, but the team would undoubtedly crash and burn without Meeks’ consistent scoring from the off-guard spot.
With him, the 13-16 Lakers still have an outside chance of making a postseason appearance in 2014. For that reason alone, turning this trade down was the right move.