L.A. Lakers Trade Speculation: Should Lakers Pursue Nuggets PG Raymond Felton?

Howard RubenContributor IFebruary 23, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 31:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers tries to steal the ball from Raymond Felton #20 of the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 31, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  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 Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Now that all of the hype and hoopla has subsided surrounding Carmelo Anthony going to New York in exchange for 90 percent of the Knicks roster, one-third ownership in Madison Square Garden and a dozen players to be named later, can we all settle down and take a look at what the Los Angeles Lakers just might have discovered in all this?

The one piece that’s truly missing for the Lakers in the team’s race to repeat is a strong starting point guard. 

Raymond Felton, the former New York Knick and current Denver Nugget for all of 24 hours, would instantly move into a starting and starring role in a Lakers uniform.

His numbers this year are the best of his five-year career and certainly All-Star caliber. The 6’1” 205-pound Felton is averaging 17.1 points per game in 38.4 minutes.

But, more importantly, he’s a great passer and floor leader, with nine assists per game. That’s three more assists per game than Derek Fisher (2.7), Shannon Brown (1.2) and Steve Blake (2.1) combined.

The rumors are already starting to fly about Felton and a possible short layover in Denver on his way to somewhere else. The Nuggets already have an exceptional point guard in Ty Lawson, and Felton may not be too comfortable with coming off the bench.

Could that “somewhere else” be Los Angeles?   

ESPN.com’s senior NBA writer Marc Stein was interviewed Tuesday about Carmelopalooza. He said that trading Felton was a strong possibility.

“There’s a very high likelihood,” Stein said, “that the Nuggets will trade these guys (Felton and center Timofey Mozgov, who also came over to Denver from New York) before the deadline Thursday.”

NBA Fanhouse wrote: “George Karl expects Raymond Felton to share time on the court with Ty Lawson, if Felton is not dealt by the Nuggets. That's some relatively good news, but the fact Felton will come off the bench is still a concern for his owners.”

And when asked if the Nuggets were now set for the rest of the year, executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri told Denver Post reporter Benjamin Hochman:

"We can't comment on that right now. Obviously people offer all kinds of crazy stuff as the deadline nears. We like our guys. We'll see how it goes by Thursday."

So, listen up Mitch, here’s the deal: Shannon Brown, straight up, for Felton. 

The Nuggets should love it because Brown is only making $2.2 million this year (with a $2.37 million player-option next year), compared to Felton’s $7 million and looming free agency.

Brown would make a more than suitable backup to Lawson and Denver fans would fall in love with his acrobatic, high-flying dunks—replacing some of the offensive entertainment they enjoyed for so long with ‘Melo.

Kobe Bryant and the Lakers would surely welcome Felton into the fold. 

In what may be Derek Fisher's last hurrah with the team, even he might take a backseat if he thought this acquisition could lead them to another title.

The Nuggets are in rebuilding mode and now have depth at virtually every position since the big trade. 

If Denver balks at a deal with Los Angeles, the Lakers might counter with another player, perhaps rookie Derrick Caracter or a second-round draft pick.

This is not meant to say that acquiring Raymond Felton would be the equivalent of the blockbuster trade that brought Pau Gasol to the Lakers three years ago.

But Felton would be a significant upgrade at PG for Los Angeles and would bring a young energy to a team that’s been looking a bit long in the tooth of late.

The Buss family has always been about winning. That is why their team salary is $91.5 million and counting.

What’s another few million if it means Los Angeles can acquire Raymond Felton and bring them that much closer to a third consecutive NBA championship?