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Lakers Trade Rumors: Hottest Reports Surrounding Los Angeles

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2016

Roy Hibbert and others make the headlines surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers this week.
Roy Hibbert and others make the headlines surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers this week.Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers might find themselves mired in the oddest rebuild the Association has to offer, but that hasn't stopped the team's name from coming up often ahead of the Feb. 18 NBA trade deadline. 

While the 11-win Lakers seem more about Kobe Bryant's retirement than anything else, behind the scenes it's clear that general manager Mitch Kupchak and others continue to work the phones and ponder ways to better position themselves for next summer.

Next summer, as in the summer of Kevin Durant, and maybe Dwight Howard and others.

Here's the latest on the Lakers, who have the future on their minds while celebrating with Bryant one last time.

Out with the old

Nick Young looks like one of the many veterans the Lakers wouldn't mind moving.
Nick Young looks like one of the many veterans the Lakers wouldn't mind moving.David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Anyone who looks at the Lakers roster knows the team has plenty of middling veterans who could depart for the right price.

The team has Brandon Bass at power forward, a guy who was an odd addition for a team most expected would wind up tanking this year. He's not a bad player by any means, but averages of 6.2 points and 4.2 rebounds this year on less than 20 minutes per gamewhile taking playing time from Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randleisn't cutting it.

Keeping this under the basket for a moment, there is also center Roy Hibbert, yet another odd fit. He's managing just 6.6 points and 5.2 rebounds on 24.4 minutes per night and is one of the focuses of a write-up by ESPN.com's Marc Stein which details players who sound like salary dumps or eventual buyouts before the deadline:

Ditto for the Los Angeles Lakers and a number of veterans on their roster: Roy Hibbert, Brandon Bass, Nick Young and Lou Williams. We should note, however, that Hibbert possesses the only expiring contract in that quartet. Bass holds a $3.1 million player option for next season.

Lou Williams is another name blocking playing time. Now 29 years old, Williams is only shooting 40 percent from the floor with an average of just 15.4 points on almost 30 minutes per game. Meanwhile, Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell bounce around in the lineup.

Then there is Nick Young, the man known as Swaggy P. He's 30 with a career-low 7.2 points per game and costs a pretty penny over the next two years unless he declines a player option in 2017.

Los Angeles surely wouldn't mind dealing any of these guys for cap space. But few teams will want Young's contract based on how miserable he's looked in a rotational role. Bass probably holds the most value, as he's been a proven contributor off the bench for contenders in the past, and the Lakers wouldn't mind getting away from his player option next year just to be safe.

Hibbert might be the most interesting, though. The NBA places a large value on expiring contracts, so a team looking for cap relief might pick up the phone and give the Lakers a ring. Then again, if it leaks that the Lakers intend to buy out Hibbert after the deadline anyway, the front office might sit around the phone through the deadline for no reason.

Sticking with the new?

There is a question mark at the end of the title to this subsection for great reason.

The Lakers seem to have a nice, young core in place. When it comes to a traditional rebuild, the Lakers have done a pretty good job.

Russell, while erratic at times, averages 12.2 points. Clarkson has proved a reliable scoring threat at 15.4 points per contest. Though older guys have been in the way, Randle averages a double-double, and Nance continues to show serious promise, shooting 54 percent from the floor and 33 percent from deep.

The Lakers wouldn't break up this core, right?

Maybe. Brian Geltzeiler of HoopsCritic noted at the end of last month that Russell might hit the trade block:

Brian Geltzeiler @hoopscritic

In taking to people around the league on who has been made available in trade talks a very surprising name has come up: DeAngelo Russell

It sounds ridiculous, but Russell has had his issues on the court. What seems like a rocky relationship between the Ohio State product and head coach Byron Scott hasn't helped that outlook, either.

Of course, one has to think the Lakers front office would move on from a coach before a potential star player. Just ask the Cleveland Cavaliers which area carries more weight these days.

So it makes sense, then, that Dan Woike of the Orange County Register revealed that though the Lakers have everyone available, young guys' getting the boot seems unlikely:

Unless some significant move comes to the Lakers’ doorstep, you’d think any young piece wouldn’t be on the move come Thursday. Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell and Larry Nance Jr. shouldn’t be considered “untouchable,” but the Lakers likely won’t be breaking up their young core.

"Significant move": As in, if the Lakers do this deal, it assures them that Durant will come to town this summer.

So yes, it's not likely.

The Lakers have to do their due diligence on any call that comes through. Rebuilding or not, that is what the smart teams do. Anyone can be had for the right price, but odds are Kupchak and the front office have a premium on the young core in place, a young core that might lure a superstar to town on its own.

A flurry of moves surrounding the almost-rebuilt Lakers will come. Moving a veteran here or there at the deadline should seem like the calm before the storm, with the frenzy really happening over the summer.

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

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