Welcome to the Rumor Mill, a place to talk about all the rumors, innuendo, and speculation about potential Lakers moves as we approach the trade deadline. In this space we’ll offer up links to reports, opinions on the speculation of the day, and anything else trade related that crosses our minds. This may or may not be a daily feature at FB&G, but we hope it can serve as a place to capture the craziness. As an aside, this feature will only run through the trade deadline this season. So, get comfortable but don’t unpack all your bags yet. ‘Cause just like the circus the trade deadline represents, this post will be on its way to the next town in a couple of weeks.
“The Lakers are in need of a point guard.” – Kurt Helin, ProBasketball Talk
Kurt’s not wrong, of course. The Lakers’ relative weakness at the PG spot has been well documented this season and last. And with Mike Brown’s hiring bringing a new system that requires more than a sideline entry and standing in the corner waiting for a spot up chance from its lead guard, the Lakers’ need for a more creative man at the “one” is on everyone’s minds.
If you clicked the link above, you’ll see that the Lakers are looking at rectifying this issue and are having “exploratory talks” with the Trailblazers about Raymond Felton. The full report is brief, but mentions Steve Blake as a player that would likely head back to Portland.
Of course, a straight swap of Blake for Felton doesn’t work (their salaries aren’t close enough in value with Felton making nearly double what Blake does) so there would have be other pieces involved (McRoberts’ salary would fill this gap, for example) or a more complex deal involving the Lakers’ TPE from the Odom trade with the Blazers sending an additional player (or more) back in the trade also possible.
For what it’s worth, the Blazers may be looking to dump other players, as a report now has them actively shopping Jamal Crawford. The Lakers aren’t listed as one of the teams showing interest in Crawford, but thinking about him on this team certainly is interesting. I mentioned before that a more complex trade could happen with the Odom TPE, and here’s an example that could work should the Lakers sweeten the deal with a draft pick. That’s the type of deal that gives the Lakers a viable PG and another wing option that allows the flexibility of playing Kobe at SF if neither Ron or Barnes are playing well.
Of course, all this is speculation to the nth degree. The latter scenario has the Lakers taking on over 5 million in salary this year (though potentially shedding payroll long term), something other reports have claimed they’d like to avoid.
Furthermore, any deal still comes with risks attached. Right now, chemistry is building with this team. And while their overall talent is still (likely) deficient, they are showing that real strides are being made. The players are starting to believe in themselves and their coaches and that’s an intangible that’s difficult to measure. I’m not saying the Lakers can go on a 2011 Mavs-like run, but I do know that many people picked the Mavs to lose every playoff series they played in mostly because their talent didn’t stack up. Four rounds later, they hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy. Again, not saying the Lakers can do this, but it’s fair to point out that these things have happened.
Going hand in hand with this question of chemistry is that time is short. Earlier today, hoops head and Lakers historian Roland Lazenby tweeted some ideas that were quite thought provoking:
Best case for the Lakers is to stay with Blake, see what happens down the stretch. No time to make anything else work in this short season. Biggest argument for the Lakers goes beyond point guards. Mike Brown has gotten this team to settle a bit finally. Not the time to mix it up. If another deal like the Chris Paul deal presents itself, yes, the Lakers will have to move. A middling deal in a short season? Nah. A deal in the middle of the year could trash Brown’s progress+break down confidence in him as a coach. Bad playoff loss could do the same. Debate over point guards+Lakers personnel could go on ad nauseum. That’s Jim+Mitch’s decision. Hard spot they’re in here with the choices.
Now the last point Lazenby made is a key one – the Lakers are in a tough spot. By the time the trade deadline comes, they’ll likely have choices at their disposal to either make a change or stand pat. Neither option guarantees the Lakers anything, and both offer pitfalls of coming up short and the repercussions of that.
Beyond what Lazenby said, though, there are also real X’s and O’s challenges that come with any trade. We’ve already said that PG is an important position in this offense, so what happens when it gets disrupted by a trade with only 30 (or less) games left to play? Can that new PG pick up the offensive schemes? Can he run the show with that much talent to keep in line at the top of the roster?
There are no assurances a trade helps. Of course, there are no assurances standing pat leads to the improvement many seek, either. There’s inherent risk in both options and both sides must be weighed.
All I know is, I’ll be happy when the deadline comes and goes and we can find out what this team will be when it’s all said and done. With the team playing well now it’s harder to see a move happening, but at the same time, it’s times like those - when the deal comes out of no where – that are both the most and least surprising. Especially with the Lakers.