With a ridiculously stupid NBA lockout looming in a couple of days, it looks like we’ll have plenty of time this summer to catch up on magazines, newspapers, books, gardening and speculation over possible trades that could bring the Lakers some much needed help in the backcourt and on the front line.
We continue to hear the same rumors about just who the Lakers could and should trade for. Unless Jim Buss and company decide to “blow up the team,” as Magic Johnson so eloquently put it, the Lakers will be hard pressed to trade for and bring in Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Monta Ellis, Andre Iguodala or Kevin Love.
All of these superstars would bring something special to the team that has too much time now to ponder what went so wrong last season when it all ended in a flame out at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks.
But the chances of any such trades occurring seem remote because L.A. would need to jettison core players like Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and/or Lamar Odom in order to work a deal. A number of such probable deals could involve a couple of these A-list starters, not something the Buss family wishes to do.
Stranger things have happened: witness the Pau Gasol trade in February 2008 that drew the ire of Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich, the 1996 trade with Charlotte to acquire the draft rights to Kobe Bryant and the pressure packed signing of Shaquille O’Neal also in 1996. All three moves came out of left field and sent shock waves through the rest of the league.
And so, it could happen again.
But in the meantime, there are a handful of possible trades that may not look as glamorous but that could help the Lakers regain some of the steam they lost after three consecutive trips to the Finals and back to back World Championships in 2009 and 2010. They might still need to unload one of their stars, such as Odom, but you always have to give up something good in the NBA to get something good in return.
These are trades I think the team should seriously consider. They could prove to be the slight tweak that this stellar club needs to get it back into serious contention next fall.
The Lakers desperately need outside, perimeter shooting. Arron Afflalo, the former UCLA Bruin, would be a welcome addition in Los Angeles, where he’d feel right at home playing in front of a hometown crowd.
The fourth year, 6’5” shooting guard averaged a career high 12.6 points in 34 minutes per game last season.
Afflalo made good on 50 percent of his shots from the floor, including 42 percent from three point range. That latter statistic is what really stands out.
Although Afflalo is not a point guard, he did increase his assist numbers last year to 2.4 and converted 85 percent of his free throws. He often plays more like a small forward and is not afraid to attack the rim.
Last year was a breakthrough one for Afflalo, and so the Nuggets may be reluctant to let him go.
Still, if they get something solid in return (Ron Artest and one of the two guards the Lakers drafted), Denver may agree to such a trade.
The Lakers would be wise to offer up a few good pieces to the 76ers in exchange for Holiday, one of the most promising young point guards in the league.
Another former UCLA star, Holiday could be the Lakers answer at PG for at least the next five to eight years.
In just his second season, Holiday took over the backcourt for Philadelphia and showed a consistency not usually associated with 20-year-old players. He averaged over 35 minutes of playing time and 14 points per game on shooting of 45 percent from the field and a very respectable 37 percent from beyond the arc.
More importantly, Holiday is a true point guard; he averaged 6.5 assists last year, which means that he accounted for close to 30 points a game between his scoring and passing for points.
Lamar Odom has been rumored as a piece to send to Philadelphia in exchange for Andre Iguodala. How about L.O. and one of the draft picks for Holiday and veteran forward Andres Nocioni?
Holiday has the potential to be really good. Philadelphia knows that, and so it could be a tough one to pull off.
It seems everyone has something to say about how the Lakers should pry Dwight Howard loose from the Orlando Magic and bring him to Staples Center.
What about bringing the guy who feeds him the ball—Jameer Nelson—instead? Built for toughness, like a younger version of Derek Fisher, Nelson has played his entire career in Orlando and has been known for his abilities to penetrate the lane, pass off for easy buckets and shoot well from outside.
Would Orlando be willing to consider a trade for this fan favorite who averages 12.5 points, 4.9 assists and hits on 40 percent of his three point shots?
Nelson makes just under $8 million a year, a lot in Orlando, but not too bad in Los Angeles. The Magic may be looking to dump some salary as they prepare an all out effort to prevent Howard from leaving town next year.
There were some rumors the Magic were shopping Nelson to Portland, but then the Trailblazers made a trade with Denver for Raymond Felton.
Nelson has battled injuries and periods of inconsistency, but overall, he's an above average point guard still in the prime (29) of his career. If the Lakers could make this trade, they should not hesitate.
The 28-year-old Harris would be an ideal pick up for the Lakers. The Jazz apparently were shopping him around during the draft, but nothing came of their idle chatter, and so he's still in Salt Lake City.
Harris, in seven seasons, is a consistently strong point guard who can pass (7.1 assists), score (15.2) and play quality minutes (28 for his career and 32 per game over the last three years).
With a salary of over $9.3 million this coming season and $8.5 million in 2012-13, Harris for Lamar Odom and one of the Lakers draft pick guards would seem to make a lot of sense for both teams, although it could leave the Jazz a bit thin at the point.
Their two other guards, Earl Watson and Ronnie Price, become free agents on Friday, so at least one of them would need to return to Salt Lake City.
How good would this guy look in a Lakers uniform?
Jared Dudley is one of those players you love to hate and hate to love. The fourth year, 6'7", 225 pound guard-forward would bring bundles of energy to a team that fizzled at the end of a very long, trying season.
Dudley is coming off his best year, averaging 10.6 points and 3.9 rebounds coming off the Phoenix bench and playing 26 minutes per game. Better still, he hit on 42 percent of his three point shots, the same rate as for his career.
Dudley, like Odom, can play both guard and forward. I wouldn't trade L.O. for him, but would try and work a deal that might include Ron Artest, Steve Blake and cash or a second round draft pick.
Jared Dudley would help the Lakers in many ways, but mainly as a perimeter scorer who plays hard every night.