It might be time to panic in Los Angeles.
The defending champion L.A. Lakers were embarrassed on their home court yet again yesterday in a 109-96 blowout loss to the Boston Celtics. Last year's 2010 NBA Finals rematch showed that the Celtics have improved and are a better team this season, while the Lakers have noticeably regressed and are looking to get back to their old form.
The Lakers are now 6-4 in their last 10 games. Their loss to Boston marked their eighth road loss, which is all they total all of last year. But when you break down what's going on here with the defending champs, one has to look no further than the team's defense.
In their past 10 games, the Lakers have allowed opponents to score at least 90 points in eight of those 10 contests. In their past two games, Boston and Sacramento have combined for 209 points, both of which resulted in losses.
Phil Jackson's team clearly needs help on the defensive side of the ball, and if they are planning on making another run at a third straight NBA Championship, the Lakers are going to have to start looking to formulate a move before the upcoming trade deadline.
Let's break this down and take a look at 10 players that the Lakers could target to improve their defensive woes.
Nick Collison is one of those guys who seems to do everything right when he is called upon to fill his limited role.
Collison would probably be a guy who would be able to come off the bench for the Lakers and provide them 10-15 minutes per game of good, hard-fought defense. He generally plays the power forward position and is known for his hard-working attitude and aggressive style of play which, in return, makes him difficult to score against down low.
It is uncertain what type of market Nick Collison possesses as far as prying him away from the Thunder. He is not a guy who starts for them, but he does play about 20 minutes per game, providing solid energy off the bench. He is also one of the Thunder's few veteran players, which does have value for such a young NBA team.
If the Lakers were able to work out a deal where they could trade a guy like Luke Walton and Joe Smith in order to land Collison, this would be a nice piece that would certainly help their struggles on the defensive end.
Yes, we get it, it might not be 2004 anymore, but despite his old age, Ben Wallace can still play some darn good defense in this league.
The former NBA Defensive Player of the Year is coming towards the end of his career, and while he does love playing in Detroit where he had his best years as a pro, he very well could be a name that teams are asking about before the trade deadline, especially those in need of a defensive post presence.
Ben Wallace is forced to play the center position in Detroit, but with the twin towers that the Lakers possess down low, he could play the power forward position in L.A., and be valuable in his off-the-ball help defense.
I think it's fair to say that Ben Wallace could be everything that the Lakers hoped Theo Ratliff would be when they brought him in in the offseason. Detroit is in a rebuilding mode and would be looking for some youth if a move like this was going to happen, perhaps someone like Derrick Caracter or a future draft pick and some cash considerations.
The Mavericks went from being quite possibly the worst defensive team in the Western Conference a few years ago, to one of the better defensive teams right now. While having a guy like Tyson Chandler in the middle certainly helps, a lot of credit needs to go to Shawn Marion and his ability to defend some of the league's best.
Whenever Dallas plays a team with a good scoring guard or forward, Marion is often the one who is called on to defend the opposition's best player. He is a good defender and also a nice option on the offensive end as well.
The Mavs aren't just going to let a player of Marion's caliber be traded without getting a fair deal in return. But with the injury to Matt Barnes, the Lakers really do need to find another wing shutdown defender. Marion could be their guy.
Dalembert is a force inside, especially on the defensive end. He ranks in the top 20 in the NBA with 70 total blocks in 43 games played this season.
The Kings signing of Dalembert was a big deal in Sacramento, but with DeMarcus Cousins blossoming like he is, do they really need two centers clogging up the middle? I mean, who do they think they are, the Lakers?
With Bynum's constant injuries, the Lakers need a big man who can step in and play good, strong defense. That is Dalembert's speciality and a role that he would likely be more than willing to fill if it means getting out of Sacramento.
The Lakers would have to get rid of one everyday player as well as a draft pick or some type of package deal if this could ever happen.
The Nuggets are not the best defensive team by any means, but one guy who does stand out for them on the defensive end is Aaron Afflalo.
In what was one of the most underrated acquisitions of two years ago, the Nuggets got Afflalo from Detroit for a second round pick. He has started every game for the Nuggets this season and has often drawn the assignment of shutting down the opposing team's best wing players.
Like mentioned earlier, the loss of Matt Barnes has hurt this Lakers team greatly. Ron Artest is not having the type of year the Lakers had hoped for and, right now, L.A. needs some help with its perimeter defense.
Afflalo has made a name for himself with the Denver Nuggets and would not come cheap if a deal was to be made. The Lakers have to make a choice of how bad do they want or, better yet, need a guy like this on their roster if they plan to get back to the NBA Finals in 2011?
Anderson Varejao is exactly the type of player that the Lakers need in their rotation. He is long, aggressive and a good defender who has a non-stop motor for making effort plays on the defensive end of the ball.
The Cavs need to shake something up before the trade deadline or else that 20-game losing streak will just continue to grow. The Lakers need to shake things up before the deadline or else their dreams of a three-peat will be out the door. Sounds like a perfect match.
The Lakers can look to package a draft pick and maybe another post player or some cash considerations in a deal here with Cleveland. This deal would help the Lakers out tremendously and really boost their post defense, which is something they need to address.
It is no secret that the Thunder are one of the best defensive teams in the Western Conference and Thabo Sefolosha is their go-to stopper on the defensive end.
Standing at 6'7", Sefolosha is a versatile defender with the ability to guard three different positions. He would be a great addition off the bench for the Lakers, although he is accustomed to starting, having started every game he has played for the Thunder this season.
The deal here is that because of how valuable he is as a defender, and because Oklahoma City is a legitimate playoff team, it is not going to be likely to trade its defensive ace without getting some real good value in return.
The Lakers would have to include some of their better bench players and a draft pick if this deal even had a chance at getting talked about.
The Bucks were supposed to be a contender in the Eastern Conference this season, but after a horrible start, Milwaukee might be in the market to trade some players for some new blood.
Mbah a Moute is a small forward who is certainly valued for his defense rather than his offense. That is perfectly fine with the Lakers, who need whatever they can get on the defensive end.
The Lakers should be able to add a good bench player and maybe a draft pick or another bench player in order to get a deal like this done. This is one of the better possibilities just because Mbah a Moute's trade value might not be as high as some of the other quality players on this list.
Adding Gerald Wallace could make the Lakers regain control as the favorite in the West. But the problem here is this would not come cheap.
If the Lakers were to add a player of Wallace's quality, they would have to part with one of their better players, whether it be a guy like Bynum, Artest and/or current and future first round picks. Wallace is an amazing talent who is equally as good on defense as he is on offense, which makes his value so great in this league.
The deal here is that Wallace is on the trade block. The Bobcats are listening to offers for him, and will likely have a number of nice ones coming in. Now the question is: Are the Lakers willing to part ways with some key players in order to get in the middle of the bidding as well?
When one thinks about great NBA post defenders, Marcus Camby is a name that has to come to mind year in and year out.
Camby is a little banged up at the moment, but he should be back and ready to go within the next two weeks. Rumors have been circling that the Blazers are looking to make a move before the deadline and Camby has been a name that has come around in some of these potential rumors.
Adding Camby would give the Lakers another dominant down-low post presence that can guard both power forwards and centers. He is a former Defensive Player of the Year in the league and is a two-time member of the NBA All-Defense team.
Landing Camby would force the Lakers to part ways with at least one everyday player and a draft pick. It really depends on what kind of market the Blazers are able to find out there for their defensive-minded big man. If the offers are not too high, the Lakers very well could make a splash here at landing Camby before the trade deadline hits here soon.