Los Angeles Lakers' 2014 Trade Deadline Shopping List
At this point in the year, spotting the perfect trade is nearly impossible for L.A. We've yet to see this roster play together as it was envisioned, and finding weak spots is tough considering we have no clue what it looks like at full strength.
With the deadline approaching, the Lakers are under the spotlight. HoopsHype.com has them as the second-most talked-about team in rumors mentioned, while Pau Gasol is the No. 1 player in the same category.
Finding the perfect deal is going to be tough, but if the team can do it, it will improve not just immediately, but also deep into the future.
What Is the Goal?
Approaching the deadline, every team must ask itself what its goal is for the rest of the season.
For the Los Angeles Lakers, this is a tough question to answer.
According to general manager Mitch Kupchak, via Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, Los Angeles has never discussed the concept of tanking. "Tanking is intentionally instructing the coach to lose, and that's (not acceptable)," the GM said.
Despite the notion that tanking is inadmissible, Kupchak is quick to declare the difference between losing intentionally and rebuilding. Should the Lakers opt to trade away key members of the rotation, this would fall under the category of rebuilding.
There's also the harsh reality that is the luxury tax. L.A. is in a decent situation because of expiring contracts, but it's worth noting Kupchak recognizes the repeater's tax as a "looming black cloud that was created for a reason."
Then, of course, there's the thought of a run at the postseason (or at least playing the best basketball possible), and that's where team needs come into play.
According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Lakers are looking for "an athletic power forward who fits Mike D'Antoni's system."
This has seemingly been the case for a while, but Thaddeus Young could be the answer the organization has been looking for.
On the year, Young has boosted his points-per-game average to a career high. He's scoring 17.8 points per contest, and he's posting 6.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals in the process.
At 6'8", 230 pounds, the 25-year-old would be a top option in the current offense. He's proven he can be a go-to scorer for the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers, and he's extended his range out to the three-point line, shooting 39.3 percent.
Whether or not Pau Gasol survives the trade deadline has yet to be seen, but it's safe to say he's not a part of the long-term picture. Bringing in Young would be a step toward the future, and one that would provide production along the way.
Evan Turner/Spencer Hawes
For the sake of avoiding repetition, we'll kill two birds with one stone, covering two more Philadelphia 76ers who could be on the move.
With the tanking rebuilding Sixers targeting the 2014 draft, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes are expendable. Both could find themselves elsewhere following the deadline, and both would be solid additions to the Lakers' rotation.
Turner, for all of his struggles early in his career, is having his best season to date. He's finally living up to his reputation as a playmaker, as he's averaging 18.9 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Efficiency hasn't been his specialty, but with the right mentality, he'd be a nice complement to other scoring options.
Then there's Hawes. The big man can spread the floor with his jumper, but defensively is where he'd make his biggest impact, as he averages 1.5 blocks per game.
According to TeamRankings.com, the Lakers are the second-worst team in terms of points allowed in the paint, and a cheap center like Hawes would be a great addition to the rotation.
Humor me for a moment while we revisit a popular scenario from the past.
Despite having seen this idea come and go before, a Pau Gasol-Rajon Rondo swap still makes sense. The Los Angeles Lakers need insurance at the point guard position—not to mention a legitimate star—and the Boston Celtics, should they choose to rid themselves of Rondo, need expiring contracts to help build toward the future.
Steve Nash, despite being a two-time MVP and eight-time All-Star, is not the player he once was. Getting him back healthy is important for this team's success, but even at 100 percent, you have to wonder how much he can produce in his limited minutes.
Having a pass-first point guard who's not afraid to run is ideal for this system. His broken jumper is certainly a problem and would be critiqued upon his arrival; but how fun would it be to watch the 27-year-old push the tempo and find scorers in Mike D'Antoni's offense?
There's no indication the C's would be interested in this deal, but the Lakers won't know what they're missing unless they make the call. Prying the All-Star away from Danny Ainge could be easier said than done, but if the effort proved successful, it could mean the start of a new era in Tinseltown.
If the Los Angeles Lakers are able to snag a future draft pick from an Eastern Conference opponent—one that is fighting for positioning in the playoffs—they might want to target the Charlotte Bobcats.
The goal here would be to sacrifice Pau Gasol's expiring contract without losing flexibility. The Bobcats are so thirsty for a spot in the postseason that they just might be willing to toss L.A. a pick along with a couple of expiring contracts of their own.
Acquiring Ben Gordon as the centerpiece of a deal isn't going to get the Lakers to the postseason, but neither will having Gasol as the team's No. 1 option. If he can get back to form and complement a healthy Kobe Bryant, that's a different story. The problem, of course, is that we don't know if either of those can happen in 2014.
Without the guarantee of a healthy Bryant or a productive Gasol, this deal makes sense. Even if L.A. can make the playoffs, they're starting over next year, and this would be an excellent way of expediting the process.
Speaking of expediting the rebuilding process, nothing points to rebuilding—a concept Mitch Kupchak is OK with—like trading for draft picks.
With the current makeup of the Los Angeles Lakers underwhelming fans both league-wide and in L.A., the franchise would be smart to focus on the draft moving forward. The 2014 class is being touted as one of the best in over a decade, and even Kupchak himself recognizes the incoming freshmen as "good as [he's] seen in a long time," according to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com.
At this point, Los Angeles is the hot topic among NBA fans for the wrong reason. However, the organization can turn that around with a successful run in the upcoming offseason.
It's worth noting again what Kupchak said in his interview with Trudell: "Tanking is intentionally instructing the coach to lose, and that's (not acceptable)."
Don't forget, though, that he also recognizes the difference between tanking and rebuilding, and making a move with the draft in mind would be the first step toward a new era in L.A.