The Los Angeles Lakers are not exactly suffering from a lack of talent on their roster. With Kobe Bryant at the 2, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest at the 3, Pau Gasol at the 4, and Andrew Bynum at the 5, you'd be hard pressed to find a team with five players of that caliber.
So what's missing? For the first time since 2007, the Lakers were exposed by their lack of a quality point guard in what's quickly becoming a point guard-driven league.
If you look at a list of current NBA point guards, you'd have a fairly tough time arguing that Derek Fisher belongs in the top 40. There are no two ways about it, it's officially an issue. And in my opinion, it's the most critical issue that needs to be figured out before next season.
The Lakers need a point guard who, first and foremost, can defend the growing number of elite point guards in the NBA. They also need said point guard to be able to knock down the three-point shot with consistency, allowing the Lakers to get the proper spacing required to play two big men inside at the same time.
Let's take a look at some potential solutions to this suddenly glaring problem.
Gibson is one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA, connecting on 41.8 percent for his career. In the upcoming NBA draft, the Cavaliers could draft Kyrie Irving with the first pick or Brandon Knight with the fourth pick.
With Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions already entrenched as the top two point guards in Cleveland, Gibson should be available via a trade.
Add in the fact that Gibson played under Mike Brown for four seasons (although he didn't always crack Brown's rotation), and this trade scenario could become reality.
Bayless closed the 2011 season extremely strong, averaging 22.5 points per game while starting in seven of the last eight games for the Toronto Raptors.
With Jose Calderon penciled in as the starting point guard and the possibility of Brandon Knight falling to the Raptors at five in the NBA draft, Bayless could be another potential trade target for the Lakers.
Jarrett Jack may be a backup point guard in New Orleans, but after watching him play last season, he would easily be the best point guard on the current Lakers roster.
The Lakers have a trade exception worth nearly $5.6 million as a result of the Sasha Vujacic trade, and may use it to acquire a point guard of Jack's caliber.
For whatever reason, Jonny Flynn couldn't crack Kurt Rambis' starting rotation last season, and with Ricky Rubio on his way next year, Flynn may become available through a trade.
Flynn was selected sixth overall by the Timberwolves in the 2009 draft but hasn't really had an opportunity to showcase his talents in the NBA up to this point.
If both Luke Ridnour and Rubio remain ahead of Flynn on the depth chart next season, the Lakers may explore a trade with Minnesota.
Again, if the Cavaliers draft their point guard of the future with either the first or the fourth pick in the draft to pair with Baron Davis, Sessions could be available through a trade.
Sessions averaged 13.3 points and 5.2 assists while playing only 26 minutes per game. What would those numbers look like if he played 35 minutes every night?
Livingston played 30 minutes just one time last year and produced 22 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
After the game, Livingston had this to say: “This was definitely a confidence-booster for us and for me especially. I know I can perform in this league. I just have to go out there and get it done.”
Livingston was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers with the fourth pick of the 2004 draft, but has yet to live up to expectations due to a severe left knee injury in 2007 that nearly ended his career.
Livingston played a career-high 73 games last season and may be close to returning to 100 percent health for the first time in what seems like forever. It would be a risky trade for the Lakers, but with a roster already stacked with talent, they can afford to take a calculated risk with the potential for a high reward in return.
The top four point guards on this list would get the Lakers back to the NBA Finals next year, in my opinion. D.J. Augustin had a breakout year in his third NBA season, averaging 14.4 points and 6.1 assists per game.
The Lakers have worked out a trade with Charlotte in the past (Shannon Brown and Adam Morrison for Vladimir Radmanovic in 2009), and may look to work together again in the future.
With the third pick in the NBA draft, the Jazz could wind up with Kyrie Irving if Enes Kanter and Derrick Williams are drafted first and second, respectively.
The Lakers organization should really be pulling for this draft scenario to play out because if a player of Devin Harris' caliber can be acquired via trade, the Lakers should do whatever it takes to make that trade happen.
When Harris is 100 percent healthy, he is among the elite point guards in the league on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The only issue is, can he stay healthy for a full season?
If you could magically guarantee that he would start 82 games next year, would you trade him for Lamar Odom?
We know how much they like George Hill, but do they like him enough to part ways with Tony Parker? And would they be willing to trade him to their greatest rival?
Lamar Odom and Steve Blake for Tony Parker...would you do it? Hmmmmmmmm...
My No. 1 target and in my opinion, a real possibility with Ty Lawson firmly in place as the starter next season.
Felton would take the Lakers to the next level, plain and simple. Again, the question is (and I'm starting to sense a recurring theme here), are they better off with Felton at the point and Matt Barnes as the sixth man, or Derek Fisher at the point and Lamar Odom as the sixth man?
Look, the Lakers likely aren't going to make any of the trades I mentioned, but with Lamar Odom coming off a career season and possessing a fairly attractive contract, he remains the key figure in any deal involving the top three point guards on this list.
Do the Lakers need better play from the point guard position? Absolutely. Will they be better off with an above-average point guard and without Lamar Odom? I'm not so sure; Odom gives the Lakers a huge advantage off the bench, especially when Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol are in foul trouble or out with an injury.
Quite simply, Odom was the Lakers' most consistent player last season—is that really the guy you want to trade? I guess we'll find out soon enough...