Itâ€™s impossible for Laker fans to watch a game like yesterday and not think about trades â€” weâ€™re used to winning (unlike Knicks fans) and watching us lose 7 of the last 10 really hurts. There are clear weaknesses on this team, for example a ball-handling/defense playing point and a real four. (Guys like Gary Payton and Karl Malone.) Ones and fours are things we may be able to trade for.
The bigger question is, can we fill those needs at a reasonable price?
Before the trigger is pulled, the long-term picture needs to be considered in any trade the Lakers make. First, as I have said before, the Lakers need to make sure any players they pick up will fit in with the long-term direction of the team (whatever that is) and the new coach (whoever that is). Second, the CBA is being renegotiated after this season, so long-term contracts could bind the team in ways yet unseen in in future years (while other teams remained flexible).
The Lakers have one other problem in making a trade: What they have to offer. Do you put Luke Walton on the block? If Iâ€™m another GM I have to question why I trade for a guy I can get as a free agent at the end of the season (on the other hand, if youâ€™re the Lakers and arenâ€™t sure you can keep him you should try to get something). Slava Medvedenko? You want to pay him $3 million for next year? Do you think anyone else does? Devean George? Heâ€™s missed all of this season with injuries and GMâ€™s are going to be hesitant to take him on without seeing he can play close to his old level. Vlade Divac? Same thing as George, but heâ€™s much older. Yet, to make a trade really work for the Lakers these are the guys who need to be the key parts.
Maybe the most tradable Laker is probably Caron Butler â€” athletic, young and just one more year on his contract ($2.4 million next year with a qualifying offer for $3.3 the year after).
That said, there are some intriguing ideas out there.
How about a real Shareef Abdur-Rahim? Heâ€™s a real four, scoring 17.8 points per 40 minutes (that would be second on the Lakers) and grabbing 3.2 offensive and 9.1 total rebounds in that same amount of time. Heâ€™s making $14.6 million this season and is a free agent at the end of the year. To get him, the Lakers would have to ship out both Lamar Odom and Devean George, which is a steep price. I can only see this working if Mitch wants to clear out cap room â€” let Abdur-Rahim walk at the end of the season then go after someone out on the market.
A few commenters (DC, Gatinho) like the idea of Rafer Alston out of Toronto. Heâ€™s averaging 16.4 points and 8.4 assists per 40 minutes (and just 2.8 turnovers). Heâ€™s got the 13th best assist/turnover ratio in the league. The downside is he may be a serious head case, based on his fights with Sam Mitchell. Well, that and his defensive stats are not good. He also has a long-term contract now. You can get Alston for Caron Bulter and Jumaine Jones, but that may be a steep price.
Eric Pincus at Hoopsworld suggests something like Rafer Alston and Donyell Marshall for Vlade and George. If I were the Lakers Iâ€™d do that in a heartbeat, but Iâ€™m not sure why Toronto would (save clearing some cap space after Vladeâ€™s gone, or buying him out next year).
Pincus (still the best beat guy) lists a bunch of other trade ideas â€” Marcus Banks (Boston) for Luke Walton and Tierre Brown, Frank Williams (Chicago) for a second round pick â€” in a recent piece but he is of the opinion the Lakers wonâ€™t make a move. Take the time to read his entire article, itâ€™s worth it, but it wonâ€™t make you optimistic about a trade.
Iâ€™d like to see a move, but sometimes itâ€™s just best to stand pat and make your moves later if there arenâ€™t good options. I’m not sure the Lakers have a good one right now.