Polls and Trades

Kurt —  November 22, 2005

First off, the latest Blogsphere Poll Rankings for the NBA are up over at yaysports.com. Detroit is now on top, with San Antonio, Dallas, Cleveland and Indiana rounding out the top five. The Lakers are ranked 22nd in the league, which is one spot below where I had them in my poll.

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Losing five of the last six has Laker fans looking for what is wrong and — as is often the case — looking for trades that can fix some of the problems. I’m not someone who likes to speculate about trades, and this early in the season all that’s out there is speculation, I prefer to link to the guys who have the inside contacts for that kind of thing.

Here’s the problem with the Lakers and trades right now — they have little anyone wants.

There are two things NBA general managers want in trades: talent or cap room flexibility (last-year contracts or draft picks).

The Lakers have only a couple last year deals people would take on — Devean George ($5 million) and Slava Medvedenko ($3 million). Together they get PJ Brown, but why would New Orleans make that deal? They can do better, big men are in demand. It doesn’t help that George and Slava are banged up right now. (As a side note: I get why they did it — how do you gamble $30 million in savings — but cutting Brian Grant this summer through the “Alan Houston/Jerome Williams” exemption cost the Lakers they one guy that had value as a last year contract, but he would not have been tradable to next summer at the earliest.)

Then there’s the question of talent: Who on this Laker roster would other teams covet? Maybe Chris Mihm to a degree, but the Lakers would have to get a big in return that is better, and teams mostly want size rather than to trade it. Teams may ask about Bynum now, but the Lakers aren’t making that move. Nobody is touching Kwame.

The only other answer is to end the Lamar Odom experiment. I seriously doubt 10 games into the season Phil Jackson is willing to write him off, but he is one guy still with value around the league. Maybe, maybe in the off-season if everything doesn’t work out the Lakers consider it.

But that’s just speculation. And I’m not going down that road.

Kurt

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16 responses to Polls and Trades

  1. And by the way, spare me the “Kevin Garnett” trade talk. Look at the standings, Minnesota leads their division and they will be in the playoff hunt. Even if they weren’t KG will not be traded mid-season.

    And, back to the post, what would the Lakers have that the T-Wolves would want anyway?

  2. Yeah – there’s no way, short of trading Kobe, that the Lakers could put together a package to get KG in return.

    What about Wally, though? I’ve heard his name bandied about in trade rumors. And I like Devean George, but if you could somehow entice Minnesota to take Devean and some combination of players/picks in trade – it might not be a bad move. And hey – Devean would probably be happy to be playing with Garnett, and back home in Minnesota.

    Rampant speculation/guesswork – I know. But man — I think Szcerbiak’s shooting could really open things up for Lamar and Kobe. The defense would take a hit, but at least we’d have a third scorer.

  3. maybe cook and george for some quality player, with slava thrown in? egh. that’s probably too much to give away for someone like pj brown.

    yeah, i doubt they’ll give up on odom for awhile. phil will find a way for him to work. hmm. but i wonder. if lamar doesn’t fit his vision of a pippen-esque initiating forward…will he be more inclined to trade him now?

    it’s so early.

    at any rate, i’m glad george is sitting out to get healthy. being more scoring deficient at the moment is good. and it’ll lower expectations for the rest of the homestand since they’ll be playing two playoff teams, let the pressure to win right away stop building a bit.

  4. I’m not against trading Kobe. Yes, he is in his prime, but you won’t be able to build a championship team around him in proper time.

    Trade him for some other sort of player. Perhaps a bit younger. Don’t give up draft picks. Well, actually, if they’re to be spend on guys like Bynum (not like he is bad, but he could be drafted at a lower position, just that) then they’re not worth having.

    I really don’t know who to trade for, but except for trading Kobe or Odom I don’t see any other way to improve things instantly. And since I’m an Odom fan, I’d rather see Kobe go out the door…

  5. The problem with trading a superstar at their prime is you can never get equal value. I still think you build around Kobe for a few more years.

  6. Been a Laker fan since I was a little kid, love the site. Living in SD and working nights, I don’t see the team as much as I’d like and watched them for the first time this year against the Bulls. A few thoughts, which may be unpopular, and I may be judging the team too harshly on one game:

    1. Bynum has good instincts and a good feel for the game, but I don’t see the athleticism. Still, I could see him being like Eddy Curry or Bryant Reeves, maybe, but with more D and less O. I do feel better about the pick than I did before I saw him.
    2. I agree with John Hollinger’s suggestion that Kobe Bryant’s legs are about 31, not 27, after all the mileage. He does not elevate and finish as consistently as he used to. He is still obviously an outstanding player, but I am not convinced that holding on to him is the right thing to do long-term. I still hear people say he is as good as Jordan. Those of us who saw Jordan in his prime know better.
    3. I don’t know that Jackson, Buss and Bryant will be able to think this way, but I think the Lakers should forget about trying to make the playoffs. The team is a lottery team right now. I know they have played better in other games, but I think they are finding their level now. The only teams in the entire conference that do not have sounder talent bases than the Lakers are Portland and NO/OKC in my opinion and even both of those teams have more long-term potential on the current roster than the Lakers do. So, when Brown comes back I would get him out there 30-35 minutes a night and tell him this is his chance (maybe his last one) and give him a good 40-50 games to show me something ( I am not at all optimistic). Bynum and Vujacic need to be playing as much as Jackson can make himself watch them, and I would keep Bryant’s minutes in the 35 range, too.
    4. As far as trades, the only real tradeable commodity, contract and all, would be Odom, but I am not sure what you would deal him for. I think there is no way in hell that Kevin McHale would trade Garnett to LA. Yao has re-upped in Houston and I think LeBron James will stay in Cleveland. So I am not sure that I want cap space by moving Odom for expiring contracts, granting that the Lakers shopping for FAs, even as a lottery team, is a very different thing than the Hawks or Raptors doing so, due to the franchise’s location and tradition.
    5. I think I would get ready to try a new GM. I have not seen much evidence that Kupchak can help the team. I think I would fire him at the end of the year. Also if the team goes about 35-47 or so, which I think they will, I would explore moving Kobe Bryant.
    6. I am glad to see Kareem working with the organization again. I always admired many things about him.

  7. Kobe’s not to blame. Kupchak’s not to blame. Without getting a superstar in return, there’s no way the Lakers should trade Kobe. Remember the Shaq trade? Didn’t work out too well.

    I say keep Kobe. He’s still one of the top five players in the game. If Bynum surprises, and ends up anywhere near being a double-double player in a few years, Odom maintains, and we get another good draft pick and a top-notch free-agent – the Lakers will be back on top.

    As much as I’d like to see a stud like Garnett fall into our laps, it doesn’t look likely. I don’t think this year is lost, but even if it is – that’s no reason to trade Kobe.

  8. I agree that Kupchak’s not to blame for the Shaq trade–I think that was Buss’ thing, mostly, as well as Shaq and Kobe themselves. I do think, though, that Kupchak has done a poor job at the margins in building up depth in the 5-9 spots on the roster. I think the Lakers should have had 1 or 2 more titles. The Lakers have done a poor job of international scouting, and I have not been impressed by Kupchak’s drafts.

    Also, I am not blaming Bryant–I just don’t think he is quite as good as other people do. I see him as a top 15 player more than a top 5 (Garnett, Duncan, Stoudemire, James, Nowitzki not necessarily in that order) whose legs are older than 27. Also, Shaq is “more unique” so to speak.

    But I am not eager to see the team move Kobe. The team may get better. Bynum may have a sharp learning curve, Odom may get more comfortable in the traingle, Brown still might wake up. I just wouldn’t rule out trading Bryant after this year depending on how things look.

  9. Actually, I’d be in favor of trading Odom for Sczerbiak straight up. Most of Odom’s value is tied up in his ability to play multiple positions, but he hasn’t proven that he can do so on a consistent basis. Lamar is not long for the triangle. His difficulties in being “the initiator” are too reminiscent of Payton; both needed to dominate the ball in order to be effective. I say pass the reigns to Smush and Luke (once he returns).

    Defensively the trade is a wash. We could miss Lamar’s contributions on the boards (but I’m not so sure Cook couldn’t pick up the slack if given minutes), and his size when he shifts to playing backup PF minutes when Mihm or Kwame (inevitably) end up in foul trouble.

    Wally would immediately provide us with an inside/outside shooting threat who wouldn’t need to dominate the ball to be effective. It’s early but already I’ve seen far too many possessions where the ball moves out from the post and around the horn to the open man (usually Lamar) for another missed 15-25 footer.

  10. I like Wally, but he has never had to shoulder the offense load that Odom has (lower usage rates) and is not quite as good a defender or rebounder. Wally is a great third option because he doesn’t need a lot of shots to make an impact, but he’s not a number two guy.

  11. True, Wally has had a lower usage rate, but I would argue he has proven to be more effective in a lesser role than Odom has ( a -.7 difference in PER avg, a +12 pt difference in off. rating avg, -3 pt diff in def rating, I won’t even go into TS and eFG), and that Odom’s usage rate is slightly inflated by the squads he was on (Clips, and Heat before Wade became option #1).

    One could go so far as to suggest that Lamars usage rate could take an additional dip from last years 3 pt drop as he will be less likely to see as many ISOs in the triangle. It’s like playing Payton over Fish all over again.

    Don’t get me wrong, Wally is an excellent #3 guy, and you make a good argument. I’m just inclined to believe that on this Laker team he may be a better fit than Lamar.

  12. Points taken, lilnemo. Maybe the big problem is Odom and Wally are really third options and the Lakers need a real #2.

  13. Robinred,
    I don’t honestly see how Dirk, or Lebron, or even Amare, are top five players and Kobe is not. Makes no sense- they have never one anything besides a few series’ (with exception to James). With Amare’s surgery he’ll be lucky to compete much less a TOP 5 guy. Dirk, has no D, but can shoot – there are plenty of guys that can shoot if given a chance. Lebron definetly has all the potential to one day be better than Kobe and even MJ for that matter and he may be a TOP 5 player, but Kobe has to be up there if King James is.
    I personally would like to see Peja instead of Wally. He’s played in more “big time” games and is a better shooter. I can see the Lakers going deeper in the playoffs with Peja than Wally.

    Great site I just came across it, I ussually hang out at lakersblog.latimes.com

  14. Sad but true Kurt. Sad but true.

  15. “I don’t honestly see how Dirk, or Lebron, or even Amare, are top five players and Kobe is not. Makes no sense- they have never one anything besides a few series’ (with exception to James). ”

    Well, no offense, but none of those guys played with Shaquille O’Neal in his prime, either.

    Bryant’s a great player, he has given the franchise many great moments, and he will give it more.

    I would rather have those three guys you mentioned going forward, though.

    On a semi-related note, LeBron James seems to have found his personal demon: Ron Artest. He will have to do better against Artest to take the next step.

    I was glad to see the Lakers play better last night. Seattle misses Nate McMillan.

  16. How about Lamar Odom for Peja Stojakovic and Corliss Williamson? As a Kings fan, I support it greatly. You can have the guy who is sitting out a week because of a sprained pinky finger. We’ll take the overpaid Mini-Pippen.

    What would Lakers fans be looking for in trading Odom? A shooter? A banger? A slasher? A starting point guard? Youth and cap flexibility?