Do LA Lakers Need a Trade Before the Deadline?

Richard LeContributor IIIFebruary 3, 2014

From left, Los Angeles Lakers' Ryan Kelly, Jodie Meeks, Chris Kaman and Pau Gasol all sit on the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Lakers 117-90. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

For a Los Angeles Lakers team that is shaping up to be one of the shoddiest in recent memory, there is no reason for them to pull the trigger on a trade unless it is to save money. Perhaps the most prevalent of reasons for this rationale is that they simply don't have a lot of desirable assets that can be traded on the market for something of value in return. 

Consider their most alluring asset in both talent and contract. Pau Gasol has a huge, expiring contract that is worth over 19 million dollars. He also has enough talent to really make an impact on a playoff-contending team if need be. As reported by Marc Stein from, the Lakers and the Phoenix Suns have engaged in discussions regarding a possible deal between Gasol and Emeka Okafor and possibly some other assets, which could save the Lakers a lot of money. 

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Outside of the potential deals the Lakers could make with Pau Gasol as the centerpiece, there isn't a lot more that they can offer. Every player besides Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre, Kendall Marshall and Nick Young (depending on whether or not he exercises his player option) are essentially expiring contracts that the Lakers should either re-sign or let go of once the season ends.

Since the Lakers are essentially headed towards the lottery, there is no point trading these expiring contracts because the salary cap space they'll leave behind in their wake will be essential in reconstructing this team next season.

Let's consider the players on the roster with multiple years left on their deal. Kobe Bryant has just signed an extension and there is no way he isn't finishing his career as a Laker. As for Robert Sacre, his contract equates to less than two million dollars for the next two seasons and is a very miniature blow to the salary cap. He is worth more as a long-term project than as trade bait. Kendall Marshall has shown the ability to be a very good distributor for this offense, and his salary of less than one million dollars next season is a small price to pay for a very competent facilitator that could potentially orchestrate the bench mob. 

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

As for Steve Nash, he could be used as trade bait next season. With one year and close to 10 million dollars on his contract, Nash could be shipped in the offseason if things don't work out in Los Angeles. However, it would be hard to use him as trade fodder this season because he still has a year left on his contract and isn't considered an expiring contract yet. 

Perhaps their most consistent scorer this season, Nick Young is worth a hell of a lot more than the $1.2 million remaining on his contract if he chooses to exercise his player option next season. Young isn't a valuable trade asset because for the price he is being paid this season and potentially next season, the Lakers won't find anybody who can perform the way Young has performed. Even if Young doesn't exercise his player option, the Lakers should try and re-sign Young in order to keep the talented sixth man in their rotation. 

Alan Diaz/Associated Press

With all of that being said, it would be a different story entirely if the Lakers were knocking on doors and were a dark horse contender for a playoff spot. If they were truly a competitive squad, they could try and trade for a defensive-minded perimeter player or big man to shore up a very shoddy defense. However, this Lakers team has shown that even during their best stretches this season, they don't play collective team defense well enough to be competitive in a very harsh Western Conference. 

Even if Kobe Bryant and the injured point guards on the roster return to the lineup, other teams will be in mid-season form while the Lakers will have to struggle to find chemistry and cohesion after all of those injuries afflicted them. Therefore, their best bet is to stand pat, sit on their expiring contracts and try to move Gasol to save some cash if they can find a good deal for him. 

All salary information is courtesy of unless otherwise noted.