L.A. Lakers: Five Realistic Trades to Help L.A. Without Breaking Up Its Nucleus

CyberCosmiXCorrespondent IFebruary 16, 2011

DENVER - NOVEMBER 11:  The Los Angeles Lakers huddle up as they prepare to face the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on November 11, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

  No, Lakers fans, the sky is not falling.

Despite back-to-back dispiriting losses, the calendar still reads February. The Lakers still posses the most devastating frontcourt collection of bigs in the NBA. They are still reigning back-to-back champs, with three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. Most importantly, last I checked a certain No. 24 that goes by "Black Mamba"—and is the best closer in the game—still wears purple and gold.

However, certain trends are rearing their ugly heads. Shooting woes, poor efforts, lackluster energy and defensive breakdowns.

There are those that view these events on an isolated, game-by-game basis, explaining away the poor showings as a championship-quality team coasting through the regular season. According to many, the Lakers are pacing themselves until the playoffs, led by the steady hand of Phil Jackson. Like Jackson, these fans are in no panic.

Others link together the poor performances and see signs of deeper problems, feel that this team does not have the fire or passion to repeat.

They may point to age, to disinterest, to diminished hunger or at individual players. These people want to see big changes if the Lakers are to win another championship.

Most Lakers fans sit somewhere in-between those two extremes. This article is geared toward those people, the ones who don't want to see the core of a proven championship broken up, but who also are disturbed by the complacency the Lakers have demonstrated this season.

Therefore, I give you these five trade proposals that would serve to improve the Lakers while also keeping intact the nucleus of the squad. The one proviso that I worked with is that these trade scenarios had to be realistic as well as work for both sides. I also tried to work within those players whom have been rumored to be "trade-bait" this season.



Shannon Brown   Daniel "Boobie" Gibson
Devin Ebanks   Manny Harris
Theo Ratliff    


Why this trade works for Cleveland:

The Cavaliers could redeem themselves for trading away Shannon Brown, a 2006 first round draft choice. He is a player whom Cavs fans have long regretted losing, his athleticism being a perfect-fit for this squad, his championship experience providing leadership.

Devin Ebanks could have a chance to blossom in Cleveland.

Why this trade works for the Lakers:

Acquiring "Boobie" Gibson would target a Lakers weakness, perimeter shooting. Gibson is a spot-up shooter that could help spread the floor for the Laker bigs. He has a quick catch-and-shoot release and is also a fine distributor. He's a good defender with the quickness to stay with speedy point guards, whom the Lakers have had trouble defending for years.



Lakers   Grizzlies
Luke Walton
  O.J. Mayo

Why this trade works for the Grizzlies:

Foremost, this would rid them of O.J. Mayo, who has been relegated to bench duty. Luke Walton would give them a capable backup to Rudy Gay, an experienced, heady passer and a great character guy. He would be a perfect fit for Lionel Hollins' system and would bring them much-needed championship experience.

Why this trade works for the Lakers:

O.J. Mayo would give the Lakers bench some scoring punch as a backup to Kobe. He's a shooter and creates his own scoring opportunities, and he could also play some point. While defense is a work in progress, he is no worse a defender than Walton.

Mayo played a mile from Staples Center at U.S.C. and prospered. He would welcome a return to L.A. and a fresh start after his 10-game suspension for banned substances.



Lakers   Bobcats
Ron Artest
  Gerald Wallace
Luke Walton

Why this trade works for the Bobcats:

This is a trade that has already been considered, but Artest reportedly rejected being traded to Charlotte. Bobcats owner Michael Jordan would love to do it has said that Artest would bring the squada necessary toughness. Artest would also have a chance to do more offensively for the Bobcats than he currently can for the Lakers.

Why this trade works for the Lakers:

Wallace is three years younger than Artest, and he can do more offensively than Artest at this point in their respective careers. He is a terrific defender and a nice rebounder. He is equally comfortable taking three-point shots as he is driving the lane and dunking. He's also much more athletic than Artest.

As Matt Barnes returns from injury he will take back those back-up minutes currently going to Walton.



Lakers   Trailblazers
Shannon Brown   Rudy Fernandez

  Sean Marks

Why this trade works for the Trailblazers:

They can get rid of a player (Fernandez) who has stated he did not want to remain in Portland, although backing off of his stance as the season commenced.

Brown would add much-needed experience to this squad, starting or backing-up Brandon Roy as he returns from knee injuries. His high-fly act would be a great fit, helping Blazers fans forget their rash of injuries.

Why this trade works for the Lakers:

Fernandez would give the Lakers the dead-eye shooter they have been craving for years. He has played in big games, made big shots and could help spread the floor off the bench and at the end of games. He could reunite with Steve Blake on the Lakers backup squad, a player with whom he had a great rapport with. He would also give Pau Gasol a fellow-Spaniard on the team.

Mostly though, his biggest contribution would be to address the Lakers biggest offensive need, shooting.



Lakers   Nets
Shannon Brown   Anthony Morrow
Theo Ratliff
Devin Ebanks

Why this trade works for the Nets:

Brown would give the Nets athleticism, as well as yet another former-Laker guard who would help them transform their team (they seem to really like those former Laker guards!).

Ebanks is a promising-rookie with an attractive contract.

Why this trade works for the Lakers:

Morrow is an excellent shooter, tailor-made for the triangle offense. He's a tall guard, at 6'5'', that Jackson prefers. He is young and is a player that has reportedly been on the Lakers' radar since he's come in the league. His shooting stroke and excellent three-point average would help the Lakers immensely.



Pau Gasol
  Carmelo Anthony
First-Round Draft Choice    

Why this trade works for the Nuggets:

Now that the Knicks have said publicly that the Nuggets are asking too much for Anthony, the Nuggets are left with an impending trade deadline and the prospect of getting nothing for their talented star.

Gasol gives them a talented big-man they can play alongside Nene. They wouldn't need to start over in full-on rebuild mode, Gasol would allow them to continue as a strong contender.

Why this trade works for the Lakers:

Lamar Odom could slide back into the starting lineup alongside Andrew Bynum, with 'Melo, Kobe and Derek Fisher rounding out the starting lineup. Anthony would give help share the scoring load, freeing up Kobe to become more of a distributor—something he's quietly become very adept at doing.

The Lakers would have a star to transition to as Kobe ages. Artest could come off the bench and provide some lock-down defense when necessary.



Lakers   Nuggets    Bobcats
Andrew Bynum (to Nuggets)
  Carmelo Anthony (to Lakers)
  Nazr Mohammed (to Nuggets)
Steve Blake (to Nuggets)   Chauncey Billups (to Lakers)    
Theo Ratliff (to Nuggets)        
Ron Artest (to Bobcats)        

Why this trade works for the Nuggets:

This trade would give Denver the elite, young player they are reportedly seeking in Bynum. They would also be receiving two players with expiring contracts worth approximately $8 million. They would be getting a point guard in Blake to replace Billups. For the Nuggets, this trade would be all about Bynum.

Why this trade works for the Bobcats:

The Bobcats would be getting a player they are reportedly interested in acquiring, Artest, and merely giving up their backup center.

Why this trade works for the Lakers:

This trade would give the Lakers a starting lineup of Gasol-Odom-Anthony-Bryant-Billups. The only way I see this happening is if the Lakers believe they have a real shot at landing Dwight Howard in 2012.


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