Grading Los Angeles Lakers' Trade Deadline Performance

Ben Leibowitz@BenLeboCorrespondent IIIFebruary 20, 2014

Feb 7, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Blake (5) is defended by Philadelphia 76ers forward Hollis Thompson (31) during the second quarter at the Wells Fargo Center. The Lakers defeated the Sixers 112-98. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s just say that the 2014 NBA trade deadline was a dud.

After weeks of rumors and speculation that the Los Angeles Lakers wanted to trade Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman, among others, the only deal they managed to make sent veteran point guard Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors for guards Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks.

The goal for the Lakers was to get under the luxury-tax threshold, but they weren’t able to do so without swinging more deals.

According to ESPN’s Larry Coon, the Blake deal saved the team just $2 million. As a result, L.A. needed to dump additional salary to get out of tax territory. 

The Lakers’ insistence upon receiving a second-round pick in addition to the cap relief they’d get by dealing Hill and/or Kaman halted the potential for a trade, per CBS Sports’ Ken Berger.

Without executing additional moves to avoid the luxury tax, the Lakers essentially traded within their own division to make the Golden State Warriors a better team.

The Dubs needed bench help as well as a secondary ball-handler who could take pressure off All-Star point guard Stephen Curry. They killed two birds with one stone by adding Blake—who is averaging a career-high 7.6 assists per game while shooting 39.7 percent from three-point range.

Lakerland didn’t come away empty-handed, though.

Bazemore and Brooks aren’t huge names by any stretch of the imagination, so assessing their value moving forward is paramount to grading the Lakers’ deadline performance.

From a money standpoint, the Bazemore/Brooks tandem accounts for approximately $2 million of expiring deals—although Bazemore has a $1.1 million qualifying offer for the 2014-15 season, according to ShamSports.

The Blake trade was meant to save the Lakers some cash, but that aspect is essentially pointless considering they weren’t able to get under the tax mark, so this aspect is pretty much a wash.

In terms of actual on-court performance, Lakers fans will just have to wait and see what each guy can realistically offer.

Dec 6, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Golden State Warriors shooting guard Kent Bazemore (20) brings the ball up the court during the fourth quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center.  The Rockets defeated the Warriors 105-83. Mandatory Credit: Troy T
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Bazemore actually raised eyebrows in seven games during the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League. He averaged 18.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists, but shot 44 percent from the field and 22.6 percent from three-point land while turning the ball over 3.6 times per game.

His summer league outing had its positives, but the performance wasn’t enough to earn regular playing time under head coach Mark Jackson for the Warriors in 2013-14. He may finally get a chance to showcase his skills on a depleted Lakers roster.

Brooks, meanwhile, has now been traded four times in two-and-a-half years dating back to a 2011 draft-day trade. This also marks the second time he’s been dealt this season.

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 10: MarShon Brooks #2 of the Golden State Warriors in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers on February 10, 2014 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and o
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

The Providence product averaged 12.6 points per game as a rookie with the New Jersey Nets in 2011-12, but his production and playing time have both been on a steady decline since then.

Although it’s a red flag that Brooks has already been dealt four times before his 26th birthday, the New York Post’s Tim Bontemps explains that he’ll be happy to join up with a future Hall of Fame shooting guard.

If Bryant decides to take Brooks under his wing, he may develop into a solid NBA player.

As it stands, neither of these additions can be expected to make a huge impact in the short term—which is all they’re likely to be as expiring contracts. However, head coach Mike D’Antoni has done more with less, so fans can watch this situation closely to see if his offensive system brings out the best in Brooks and Bazemore—as it already has with Blake, Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks and others.

I like this deal a lot more from G-State’s perspective, because Blake has been playing arguably the best basketball of his career. With that said, L.A. saved some cash and may find an additional diamond in the rough (a la Marshall).


  • Lakers saved approximately $2 million.
  • They didn't take on long-term salary.
  • Added two young swingmen.
  • Gave Blake opportunity to play for a contender.


  • Money saved is essentially pointless since they didn't get under the tax.
  • Brooks and Bazemore appear to have an NBA ceiling of "role player" at this point.
  • Steve Blake was playing well and reportedly "loved" playing under Coach D'Antoni.
  • Lakers failed to make additional deals happen.

Trade Deadline Grade: C


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