With the Lakers not performing to their full potential at the Staples Center or away from that place they call home, General Manager Mitch Kupchak is getting a little restless with the team and is beginning to consider trading some of the purple and gold family for fresh eyes and new talent.
Of course, it would be a job-killer for him to even think about moving Kobe Bryant, but players like Luke Walton, Shannon Brown and Andrew Bynum may be playing out their last days on the team.
Shannon Brown, who started the season off explosive and in charge, has somewhat fallen off of the radar, with the exception of his missed dunks on SportsCenter. He could be Los Angeles' biggest bargaining chip right now.
He is young and still has his greatest years in front of him. He would more than likely be traded for earlier first-round draft picks, but is a possibility nonetheless.
The only problem with letting him go is that means the team would be going in the opposite direction that it is trying to. Legend Jerry West commented heavily on Los Angeles’ advancing age contributing to their lack of defense, and when you let Brown go you lose some of the speed that got you through the NBA Finals last year.
Andrew Bynum could be another target of a possible trade for the Lakers. At the young age of 23 he has already experienced some heavy-hitting injuries, and after his widely anticipated return to the court, he had to sit out in Tuesday’s game against Houston because of bone bruises on his left knee.
Phil Jackson calls him “structurally fine,” but with 120 games missed in his tenure as a Laker, the front office may be viewing him as an issue instead of a luxury.
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Ron Artest and Luke Walton could be possible avenues as well. With the damage Walton’s injury created for the team’s bench chemistry, the Lakers have a little insurance policy on his presence with Matt Barnes. Walton has played more minutes in January than he has the rest of the season, but his productivity falls short of progress.
Ron Artest is expendable simply because his market value is not as high as it was last year. Every last one of his statistics has dropped from last season and the 31-year-old is not getting any younger or more dominant.
Time and time again we have seen players have monumental seasons and then the moment they fall short, they are shipped out for the next hottest thing. That has not been the case in the Lakers’ history, but with a frustrated Kupchak it may take this sort of change to put Los Angeles back in contention and back where they have been for years—on top.