Los Angeles Is Where Leverage Lives

Darius Soriano —  December 6, 2011

The trade and free agent rumors are coming fast and furious. Every “available” player is now seemingly being linked to the Lakers. Just taking an inventory, here are the names that I’ve read the Lakers are interested in acquiring either via trade or in free agency (includes potential amnestied players):

  • Dwight Howard
  • Chris Paul
  • Jamal Crawford
  • Baron Davis
  • Rashard Lewis
  • J.J. Barrea
  • Tayshaun Prince
  • Aaron Aflalo
  • Shane Battier
  • Delonte West
  • Josh McRoberts
  • Jason Kapono

Granted, all of these names in some way, shape, or form make sense. They’re either some of the best players in the league or fill skill and/or positional holes for the current Lakers team. In a lot of ways, the Lakers would be well off to have even one of them, much less two or three of them.

But lets forget the names for a second. After all, if the Lakers actually acquire a player, we can analyze it at that point. Instead, lets focus on how names end up being reported in the first place.

Leaks of information almost always come back to establishing some sort of leverage. Whether to increase the dollar amount of a contract offer, to sweeten the pot of players included in a trade, to play agents or teams off each other…there are countless reasons information ends up in the hands of the media to be reported to the masses. I mean, teams, agents, and players are all looking for the best offer for them and however they can get there is fair game.

Relating this back to the Lakers and the names listed above, this is the perspective that needs to be taken into account when considering whether any acquisition is really possible. Do you think it’s more likely that the Lakers could actually acquire both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul or that there’s been some sort of leak to play parties off each other in order to execute a favorable deal? Do you think it’s more likely that the Lakers sign all those FA wings or that the information given to the media is being used advantageously to get a client a better offer?

Remember, this isn’t the first time the Lakers’ name has been dropped in a trade a rumor. Last season it was Carmelo Anthony. The year before that it was Chris Bosh. Right now it’s Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. Give it enough time and Deron Williams name will pop up too.

The Lakers have the types of assets to make a deal; this much is not debatable. And, like every other team in the league, they’d surely have interest in acquiring the best players currently lacing up their sneakers. However, the internal workings of how a trade actually gets done is rarely broadcasted to the masses. At least, not with this Laker team; not with Mitch Kupchak running the show.

And this is where leverage comes into play. From a team’s standpoint, a trade will always be about getting the best asset possible while giving up as little as possible. From a player’s and agent’s standpoint, it’s about getting to the most desirable destination while getting the maximum amount of money. The information that is given to the media is meant to help accomplish those goals from whoever is doing the leaking.

Understand that right now the Lakers are a natural target for anyone and everyone. As mentioned earlier, they have the trade pieces to placate an opposing team’s wants in a deal. As a free agent destination the Lakers are also prime real estate as a championship contender with a fixed contract to offer that other teams will have to exceed to acquire any given player. Using this information as leverage in the whirlwind market in front of us is also the natural maneuver.

So, take a step back and see these rumors for the leverage seeking moves that they are. It doesn’t mean that a deal won’t happen, but as history has proven – especially with this Lakers team – it surely doesn’t mean it will either. At this point we’re all best served avoiding the circus. I know I will be.


Darius Soriano

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