The Los Angeles Lakers are en route to one of the top picks in the 2015 NBA draft, but that likely won't stop them from attempting to make some improvements ahead of Thursday's trade deadline.
Since the Lakers are essentially working with a blank slate due to the fact that Kobe Bryant is out for the remainder of the season with an injury, they can afford to take some chances and build toward 2015-16 and beyond.
There is certainly no shortage of trade talk surrounding the Lakers right now, regardless of their standing as the deadline approaches. Not every rumor will come to fruition, but L.A. certainly needs to make something happen in order to galvanize the fanbase.
Here is a look at a few possible acquisitions that could do precisely that.
Perhaps the biggest and most intriguing name on the trade block is that of Phoenix Suns point guard Goran Dragic. The NBA's reigning Most Improved Player has blossomed into a spectacular player but may very well push his way out of Phoenix, where he has had to share the spotlight with fellow point men Isaiah Thomas and Eric Bledsoe.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Dragic would like to be dealt prior to the deadline, and the Lakers are among the teams he wouldn't mind being dealt to:
The New York Knicks, Miami Heat and possibly the Indiana Pacers are in the running to strike a deal for the Slovenian star as well, per Wojnarowski.
One thing that could complicate a Dragic trade is the fact that he is set to hit free agency this offseason. It isn't outside the realm of possibility that an organization could look to bring him in as a rental, but it is more likely that any team that acquires him will look to sign him to a long-term deal.
That seems to be the case with the Lakers, as they are reportedly planning to make him an offer in the range of $80 million over four years, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein.
There is little doubt that Dragic would be a good fit in Los Angeles moving forward, since there is a major need at the point guard position. Jeremy Lin hasn't been a great fit and is set to hit free agency this summer anyway.
Dragic is averaging over 16 points and four assists per game this season after going for over 20 points and nearly six assists per contest in 2013-14. That would be ideal complementary production alongside Kobe and would put the Lakers on track toward getting out of the doldrums.
It isn't clear what the Lakers would have to give up in order to pry Dragic away from the Suns, but it is clear that he would love to make the jump to Los Angeles if possible.
Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe appears to be at the forefront of trade conversations on a yearly basis. The 24-year-old power forward continues to get better with each passing season and is currently in the midst of a career year with averages of over 15 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Monroe is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason, and with the Pistons currently sitting two games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, one might assume that they would be willing to move him at the deadline.
If that is the case, then the Lakers are interested, as they previously inquired about his availability, according to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne:
Unfortunately for L.A., though, the Pistons are unlikely to move Monroe despite his impending free agency. Per Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News, head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy wants to keep Monroe and make a run toward the postseason:
It's not gonna happen. I don't know where Greg's head will be in the offseason, but we're still hopeful of Greg Monroe for the long term. And with him going into free agency, you won't get a lot, maybe a pick. I'm not gonna walk in that locker room and give up a piece like that and then tell the guys we're trying to make the playoffs. They deserve the chance to ride this out. You never say never to anything, but I can tell you about 99.9 percent, Greg Monroe's not going anywhere.
Van Gundy's assertion likely comes as a major disappointment to many teams across the league, including the Lakers. The Carlos Boozer experiment hasn't gone particularly well in L.A., and aside from Jordan Hill, the Lakers don't have much to speak of in terms of post presence.
Monroe would give Los Angeles an excellent scoring option down low, which would subsequently take pressure off Bryant next season and beyond.
With the Pistons remaining steadfast in their belief that keeping Monroe is the best move for the franchise, though, the Lakers will almost certainly have to move on.
While it appears as though Dragic is the Lakers' target of choice prior to the trade deadline, he isn't the only Suns player on their radar.
According to Stein, Phoenix is looking to move center Miles Plumlee:
As it turns out, the Lakers are one of two teams known to have interest in acquiring the 26-year-old former first-round pick, per Sam Amick of USA Today:
Plumlee is certainly talented, but the third-year player's role has decreased in Phoenix. He averaged roughly eight points, eight rebounds and one block per game last season, but his production has dipped to four points and five rebounds per contest in eight less minutes per game.
He has gone from a starter to a depth player off the bench as Alex Len has received more minutes in his second NBA season.
Since the Lakers have a dearth of quality big men on their roster, one can only assume that they would give the 6'11" center a more prominent spot in their rotation than the Suns have.
It is difficult to predict what the Suns will ask for in return, but the fact of the matter is that Plumlee's trade value has been damaged to a certain degree this season. The Suns are lacking in terms of quality bigs in their own right, yet Plumlee is only a bench player for them. That certainly throws up some red flags.
Plumlee is still young and brimming with potential, though, which is why the former Duke standout may be worth a flier from the Lakers' perspective.
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