The Los Angeles Lakers may be keeping their head coaching vacancy open like it's a 24-7 Wal-Mart, but that isn't stopping the front office from making roster moves. The team's next potential move, though, could be the worst of the summer.
According to Jordan Schultz of NBC Sports Radio, the Lakers are looking at a potential sign-and-trade deal that would net Eric Bledsoe:
Hearing that Lakers have moved to front of the Eric Bledsoe sign-and-trade line. Suns want Julius Randle + HOU first-rounder.— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) July 20, 2014
If you watched the draft, the Lakers were lauded for landing Julius Randle with the seventh overall pick. Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix gave the team an "A" grade, thanks in large part to the Kentucky forward's natural offensive ability:
Randle fills a suddenly gaping hole at power forward (bye, Pau Gasol) and satisfies Kobe Bryant at the same time. The Kentucky freshman is close to NBA-ready; he could even start for a team that will be desperate for low-post offense. His power offensive game will make his defensive shortcomings easier to stomach for Lakers fans.
Despite making all sorts of moves this offseason, including acquiring Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin, it's hard to imagine the Lakers being a playoff team in the loaded Western Conference. They will be better than last year's 27-55 mark, but does it really matter if you win 40 games and miss the playoffs by five or six games?
If anything, that just hurts the Lakers, because it decreases their chances of getting a higher draft pick.
Bledsoe is a solid player who's coming off of a career year at the age of 24 (17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds per game), but is he really someone that you want to start building a team around? He certainly values himself highly, as any player coming off of his best season would.
However, the Phoenix Suns, who know what Bledsoe brings to the table as well as anyone, don't think he's at a max level yet, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard:
Sources: Suns offered Eric Bledsoe 4-year, $48 million contract. Bledsoe wants max of 5 years, $80 million. Sides far apart— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 17, 2014
What the Lakers are trying to do this offseason is put a Band-Aid on a broken leg. Everyone outside the organization—fans, analysts and everyone in between—understands that the current roster is broken.
Which player would you rather build around for the next decade?
The front office wants to build around a 35-year-old Kobe Bryant coming off of a torn Achilles late in the 2012-13 season and a fractured knee last year, hoping to win one more title before he calls it a career.
Unfortunately, Mitch Kupchak hasn't been able to supplement the rest of Los Angeles' roster. Steve Nash is a shell of his former self—when he's able to play. Boozer is coming off of his worst statistical season since he was a rookie.
The only thing the Lakers have for the future is Randle, who comes with an excellent price tag and the kind of size on the inside to fill the void left from Pau Gasol's departure. Trading a cost-controlled rookie for a good player who wants to be paid like a star, despite missing 39 games last season, isn't a great use of the resources at their disposal.
Los Angeles came into the offseason with $28 million in cap space. All the subsequent moves have taken the team's payroll up to $56.9 million, per HoopsHype.com, which is just over $6 million under the cap.
For all that money spent, where is the new star in Los Angeles? The only player on the roster with that kind of potential is Randle. So, by all means, package him in a deal that would also require the Lakers to give up the future first-round pick acquired in the Lin deal. That will make it easier to win a title very soon.
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