Archives For Trades

Do The Lakers Need To Make A Trade?

Kurt —  January 26, 2010

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When a team is not reaching its potential around the trade deadline, there is a temptation to want to “shake them up” with a trade.

The Lakers are not reaching their potential. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games, 1-2 on this road trip. They played better against a Toronto team that plays well at home, but it was still a better overall game from them than we have seen recently. It’s one of those things I notice in baseball (not sure if the stats would back me up) — when a slumping hitter is about to break out of that, they seem to go through a phase where they start hitting the ball hard but still make outs. They drill the ball but right at the shortstop, or the centerfielder robs them of a home run. Is that where the Lakers are?

Or, do the Lakers need to be shaken up?

That is always risky — shaking a team up for the sake of shaking things up rarely works out. It’s about needs, value and fit. For both teams (meaning don’t think that there are teams lining up to get Sasha Vujacic right now).

What if the Pistons called and offered Jason Maxiell for Adam Morrison’s contract. That’s what the guys at Pistons Powered asked me in an email, and I have to say it is tempting. Maxiell is going to make $5 mil a year for four more years. He is playing poorly this season, but is that a question of a bad team and no defined roll, could he return to the quality backup four he was the previous couple seasons? The 2008 Maxiell would be a good deal at $5 mil, this year’s version makes that a long-term problem.

I doubt Buss would do it; he’s not going to take on long-term salary for a role guy like that. But what do you think would work? Know that the Nets said Devin Harris is not on the block (they are not going to trade him until they have John Wall in camp, and with the worst record they would only have a 25% chance of winning the lottery). Nobody in Toronto, nobody with connections there, thinks Bosh is on the market.

What could the Lakers do to shake things up? Or should they?

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Let’s get the details out of the way: Peter Vescey reports that a source told him the Lakers would like to move Andrew Bynum for Chris Bosh.

My source believes the Lakers will offer Andrew Bynum for Bosh (if they haven’t done so already) well before the deadline expires. In itself, the one-for-one swap is impossible to make. Bynum’s “base year” essentially allows L.A. to take back but half of his salary this year ($12.5M). Of course, that restriction is lifted when next year’s salary ($13.7M) activates come July 1, at which time a sign-and-trade transaction would be feasible.

The possibility of such a deal makes sense to me. First of all, Bynum is a legit starting center for the defending champions. He also has three years left on his contract after this one.

As for the Raptors, despite the severe offseason roster renovation, they’re not giving any indication of being more than just a one-and-done playoff group this season and in the foreseeable future.

The first of the year always brings with it a flood of trade rumors and as we get closer to the deadline they get more crazy. Know this about Vescey — he throws a lot of rumors out there. A lot. To be fair, some pan out, but many do not. His Lakers sources have been spoty at best. Also, notice his phrasing in that first paragraph: His source “believes” the Lakers will make this offer. Does it sound like he got this directly from a decision maker?

Also, know this about unsourced rumors: Nobody tells a reporter something because they like them. There is a motive. Every time you see a rumor, think: “Who benefits by this being out there?” Did a team plant a rumor to increase trade value or gain leverage in another negotiation? Did an agent plant a rumor to help his client? I don’t know who Vecsey’s contact is, but they are feeding him this big rumor for a reason.

This rumor makes little sense to me in the short term because Bynum is base year player (as mentioned in the piece). To get Bosh at the trade deadline the Lakers would need to send Bynum, Morrison and Farmar — that is a lot of talent to suddenly be missing mid season. Then you have to teach Bosh the triangle offense and see if he can play with Kobe and Gasol — Bosh is a budding superstar, do you think he wants to be option number three?.

And then there is the money issue — the Lakers are already at the top end of what Buss wants to pay. Bosh is a free agent this summer and will get a max (or at least near max) deal. Do you think the Lakers can really add that on to Kobe (who will get extended or opt out and re-up this summer), the new Gasol deal, Odom, Artest, Walton and so on? And you want to get a point guard on top of that?

The rumors are out there. More are to come. I would suggest looking at them with a critical eye. While the fan base may want a big statement move, that is not very likely. These are the defending NBA champions and they have the best record in basketball — do you really blow that up midseason?

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The rumor is out there that the Lakers are going to extend Pau Gasol’s contract soon (Eric Pincus wrote this at Hoopsworld). On one hand the timing seems odd, so I’m taking this with a whole lot of salt, but eventually the Lakers will do just this in one form or another. Nobody is in favor of letting Gasol walk.

The challenge is the Lakers have a lot of pieces that they want to keep, the core of the championship team. And that means making a trade this season or a move this summer to fill in the point guard position becomes a Rubik’s cube. Zephid explains in a recent email.

If we assume we let Ammo and Farmar walk, bringing back Powell, DJ, and Fisher for the minimum, and Brown picks up his player option, we’ll have somewhere around $87 mil in payroll with a 10 man roster, not counting any draft picks whatsoever. Assuming we add 3 players for the minimum, we’ll have around $90 mil in payroll, about $1.3 mil shy of our total this year. Any quality PG we bring in will probably be in the $2-6 mil range, so that would put us somewhere between $92 mil and 96$ mil. With the luxury tax level dropping to $65 mil, which is an upper estimate (it could drop significantly lower), that would be somewhere around $30 mil in luxury tax payments, taking our total salary expenses to around $125 mil. That’s more than $10 mil more than we’re paying this year, and this is the best-case scenario.

This time of year everyone has trade ideas. Plenty of them. That includes GMs, who are calling each other a lot the last week or so (this is a busy time of years as a lot of guys become available next week). The challenges for the Lakers as I see it are multiple, however, and it will be hard to make anything really work.

Clearly, long term point guard is the primary concern. But you can’t just go get any point guard – you need someone who is willing to be offensive option number 5, can defend and hit shots from the outside. Basically, he Lakers don’t need CP3 or Ricky Rubio, they don’t want a guy who needs to have the ball in his hands. Snoopy2006 sent me an email recently saying he was struggling to find someone worth getting.

I started to look at a list of the PGs in the league. There’s so many complaints about Fisher, but what makes this difficult is that better PGs (better overall) aren’t better necessarily for the system we run. When you take that into account, there’s not a lot of good options out there (high potential guys like Beaubois and Maynor aren’t becoming available). I like George Hill a lot for our system, but if we’re being realistic, SA isn’t giving him up. Some people are high on Duhon too; I’m non-committal on him.

But outside of that, there’s no real upgrades out there (and we’re not getting a high draft pick). Fisher isn’t even in the top half of the PGs in the league, but there’s not much better out there with our current system and personnel (meaning we don’t want a high-volume shooter). So I started thinking along some different lines — are there other ways around our PG defense problem? I thought about how Ariza was perfect for guarding the speedier PGs with his length, and that led me to…. Dorrell Wright (sorry if you had a mouthful of food, try the Heimlich). I’ve watched the Heat closely for years, and I’ve seen this guy from the beginning. He’s been, by most standards, a bust. A project that never truly developed. I’ve been as down on him as any critic. But there are several things about him that intrigue me.

I’m not sure if he really is a fit, but at least Snoopy is thinking outside the box. He later makes the point that the Lakers best chance is to unearth a hidden gem for the position. The Lakers don’t need a traditional PG, guys like Harper and Paxson did well as the triangle PG even if they would have been bad fits a lot of places. For the Lakers, you can think differently about the position. Darius was thinking outside the box as well.

One other guy that I’d really want to play for us — and a guy that I think could actually play PG for us — is Anthony Morrow. Living in the Bay, I’ve gotten a close up view of this guy and he can play. He’s already one of the games best shooters, but he’s got a little bit more to his game than just that….he’s got a decent handle and is better off the dribble than you’d expect. Also, because he gets a lot of minutes at SF, he’s shown toughness on the glass and in fighting for position with guys bigger than him that has impressed me. He’s not a FA until the season after next, but if we could get our hands on him I’d be ecstatic.

Whatever happens, the Lakers are going to need to be creative. Go ahead and give us your trade ideas if you want, but remember to be creative and think realistically: The Lakers are not going to take on a big long-term salary. Bynum’s raise kicked in this year, while Kobe, Odom, Gasol and Artest are here for years. Sasha has a year left on his deal and don’t think teams are eager to have him around next year with a shooting slump and a $5 million salary. Darius adds:

The truth is that we will have a hard time making an impactful trade for a PG because (a) we need to cut payroll, (b) at least half the league won’t make a trade with us that improves us, and (c) we have no real assets to offer.

Trade Deadline Thread

Kurt —  February 19, 2009

Rumors are flying around the NBA at a Lindsay Lohan pace. As things become reality I’ll post updates and a few thoughts here, and keep the comments going.

First, thoughts on Tyson Chandler going back to the Hornets. I would say if Chandler is healthy, that makes the Hornets a potential threat again, except that apparently he is not healthy, at least in a way that is going to impact how he pays for the rest of this season (and maybe beyond). The Lakers have really had the Hornets number, they just don’t match up all that well with LA, and the only way to change that was for them to take on more salary. That is not going to happen. I just get the feeling the Hornets are stuck a step behind the Lakers for a little while, which may frustrate Chris Paul to no end.

Lakers Trade Vladimir Radmanovic

Kurt —  February 7, 2009

Indiana Hoosiers v Gonzaga Bulldogs
In a move that is a salary dump, the Lakers have moved Vladimir Radmanovic to Charlotte. Here is the official announcement:

The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired forward Adam Morrison and guard Shannon Brown from the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for Vladimir Radmanovic, it was announced today.

Morrison, currently in his 3rd NBA season out of Gonzaga, was selected third overall by the Bobcats in the 2006 NBA Draft after earning unanimous First Team All-America honors and garnering multiple National Player of the Year awards his senior year. Named to the All-Rookie Second Team following the 2006-07 season, Morrison appeared in 78 games as rookie including 23 starts, averaging 11.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 29.8 minutes while earning T-Mobile Rookie of the Month honors for November 2006.

Missing the entire 2007-08 season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee in an October 20 preseason game against the Lakers, Morrison has played in 44 games this season including five starts, averaging 4.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 15.2 minutes with a high-game of 16 points November 11 vs. Denver.

Morrison is due the remainder of $4,159,200 this year and then $5,257,228 for next season. After that, the Lakers would have to pick up his option, something that is unlikely with Bynum’s new deal, plus potential deals for Ariza and Odom to be signed this offseason. Little used guard Brown has a one year deal for less than $800,000.

Radmanovic was due $6.5 million this year and next, and with the player option his deal went one year longer. Because the Lakers are in the luxury tax, this will save the team about $13 million.
This will not impact the Lakers on the floor, except during garbage time. Radmanovic could not crack the Lakers rotation, and he is an infinitely better player than Morrison. So far this season Morrison has a true shooting percentage of 45.2% (Radman is 60.4%), is shooting 33.7% from three (44.1%) and has a PER of 6 (11.8). Plus, at least by reputation, he is a considerably worse defender than Radmanovic.

As for Brown, well, if he couldn’t get off the bench behind Felton….

UPDATE: The official comments from Mitch:

“As the season wore on, it looked like Phil (Jackson) had settled into starting Luke (Walton) and bringing Trevor (Ariza) off the bench, and we are very pleased with both players. Vladi (Radmanovic) started the season (at small forward) and I thought he played well, but here it is early February and it looked like he wasn’t going to play much. You can tell by just watching and talking to Vladi that he did want to play, and he didn’t come here just to sit on the bench and collect a paycheck. So, part of the decision was to accommodate a player that wanted to play.

From our point of view we feel we pick up two players that are still young developing players (is valuable). As you know, Adam (Morrison) was their No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft and had an ACL injury against us last year. That injury takes more than a year (to recover from), so we think he would benefit from a situation that has less pressure, and our staff here in terms of our people downstairs medically and just a stable environment where he could progress and get back to where he was in college. Shannon Brown is a developing player as well – you may recall that he played really well against us in L.A. last week. So we picked up two players that have upside. If there was a third reason, we picked up some flexibility down the road with a shortened commitment versus Vladi’s (financial) commitment.”

# When asked if the Lakers were done on the trade front before the February 19 deadline, Kupchak responded in turn: “I wouldn’t say that I’m making a lot of calls. We have the best record in the league right now, we just had a great road trip and hopefully we can end it really strong tomorrow. The news on Andrew (Bynum) was not good, but it looks like he’ll have a better chance to return this year than he did last year, so I’m not sure we want to address anything more than continuing to win as many games as possible and hope to get Andrew back.
# More pointedly: “I don’t think there’s a deal out there that can make this a better team than the one we have or the one we potentially have.”

Let’s Talk Trade

Kurt —  December 29, 2008
San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers, Game 5

I really don’t understand the idea of trading Chris Mihm for Tyronn Lue, the rumor that has gained enough momentum to be taken seriously. But then, any Laker trade rumor is harder to kill than Freddy Krueger.

The Lakers don’t save any money in this proposed deal — Lue actually makes more than Mihm. They trade big for small, and they do it for just a back-up guy to fill in for two months. Because if you’ve seen Lue play at all recently, you know he is no Jordan Farmar.

The Bucks gave Lue the old trade spotlight game Saturday, giving him key minutes against Detroit. What did he do with it: 0-7 from the floor, 0-5 from three, and made Allen Iverson look a decade younger on defense.

Did you watch Sasha Vujacic last night? He can play the point in the triangle. He had 17 points on 6 of 10 shooting, 4 of 7 from three, had a season best six assists to just two turnovers, and looked solid on defense.

Some Lakers fans have this odd, unnatural affection for Lue and think he’s a good defender. He is not. So far this season, opposing point guards are shooting over 60% (eFG%) against him, scoring 23 points per 48 minutes and have a PER of 22.7. That is the same as having a Tony Parker or Chauncey Billups playing against you every night.

And if you thought he played stellar defense against Iverson in the finals seven years ago, you must not remember The Answer stepping over him after hitting a key three late in game one. I remember that.

In the end, this trade would not be a big deal if it went down because neither Lue nor Mihm will see key minutes in the playoffs. (If they do, the Lakers have some serious problems.) But it still makes no sense to me.

A lot of Lakers fans think that this team, this 25-5 team, needs to make a trade. If you think so, this is the rare comment thread here to throw it out.

But, remember, if you want to trade Lamar Odom, you have to remember he is part of a winning three-man front line for the Lakers. You have to replace his production and role on the team, and as much as I think the Lakers can get more from Josh Powell, he is not Odom (the guy with the best +/- on the team).

And, one more thing in your trade suggestions — make sure it makes sense for both teams. Just because you want Devin Harris doesn’t mean the Nets are going to trade him.

The Wild West

Kurt —  November 3, 2008

Apparently, the Denver Nuggets hate losing to the Lakers so much they thought it was time to make big changes. Iverson out, Billups in. McDyess is in Denver, although rumors are he may be bought out (for luxury tax reasons).

I kid about the Lakers end of that, sort of. It’s not just the Lakers, but the Nuggets were spending a lot of money on a team that was going to be in the second or third tier of the Western Conference, they had no choice but to make a big, bold move.

What are Nuggets fans thinking? Here are the thoughts from Pick Axe and Roll:

My number two off-season priority for Denver was finding a point guard. I guess three games into the season is close enough to the off-season where we can say they got the job done. When I laid out the specifications after last year that I would like to see in a point guard Chauncey Billups is almost a prefect match. He is unselfish, knows how to set up his teammates and can run an offense, he has the size and willingness to play defense and he can shoot it from downtown. He is nearly a perfect fit.

Keeping that in mind the question is does Billups accomplish what AI could not and make the Nuggets a contender? I think this trade clearly makes the Nuggets a better team right now, and probably next year too, but I have to say at this point they are still not a contender at the level of the Lakers, Hornets and Jazz. I do think this trade will put them firmly in the playoffs ahead of teams like the Spurs, Suns and Mavericks though and they will be a much tougher out than they have been the previous five seasons. With the new defensive focus and intensity we have seen and with the addition of a player in Billups, who will fit better than AI in a half court setting and will add another player capable of hitting 40% of his threes to pair with J.R., the Nuggets are going to be a team to be reckoned with…..

The Nuggets now will be starting Billups, J.R, Melo, Kenyon and Nene. That is a very good starting five capable of both scoring and playing stout defense. For all the hatred spouted at the Nuggets over the Camby trade, there is no doubt that today the team is better than they were at the end of last season and to top things off they are far cheaper as well.

I think that’s a good assessment. The Nuggets are now a better team (at least once everyone meshes) but are they really on par with the Lakers or Hornets (or maybe even Rockets)? My first reaction is no, you never know how things will shake out but are they deep enough? They did get better, however, no doubt.

As for Detroit. Welcome to the youth movement. They may or may not keep AI after this year (can they get him at a greatly reduced price?), but they clearly have decided to go with the Rip/Prince/Amir movement for the long term. If they let AI walk at the end of the year they can sign a near-max player this summer and still have room for a max deal in the highly-valued summer of 2010. That’s quality and fast rebuilding.

Just a couple of other random thoughts to throw in there:

• After watching a lot of games last week, and a lot of team introductions, I have to say that Chicago’s digital “running of the Bulls” through the streets of Chicago may be one of my favorites.

• As for least favorite things this season, Bryan hit the nail on the head in the comments:

One thing that stood out so far: the Timberwolves play on an abomination of a basketball court. Between the three point lines it’s varnish orange/brown, and inside the three point line it’s a light wood (with the key being painted team colors). Seriously, every time I see a game played there right now, I think I’m watching the Wizard of Oz in Technicolor. Something must be done before every Minnesotan goes blind. I can’t even find an image of it online – even the internet knows not to show the world this eyesore.

• If you do just one thing tomorrow — get out and vote. No discussion here of who and what to vote for, just that it is important to vote, to make your voice heard.

Now, if you had to vote for a Laker for president, who would it be?

How often have we looked at one of those seemingly lopsided trades — ones that would be protested in any fantasy league — and say, “Why can’t our GM pull one of those off?”

Well, now he has, and Mitch Kupchak deserves a lot of credit. He’s taken an unworldly amount of heat from fans and media, but note what commenter kwame a. pointed out:

every player on this team except Kobe has been acquired or drafted by Mitch.

And that is a very deep and very versatile roster. That’s what Gasol brings that will fit so well on this team and in this offense — the Lakers can be a matchup problem for just about anyone. I’ll let Reed break it down:

We also have the most flexible team in the league, with so many possible combinations.

Pure talent: Farmar, Kobe, Odom, Gasol, Bynum

Passing and intelligence: Fisher, Kobe, Walton, Odom, Gasol; or: Fisher, Kobe, Walton, Gasol, Bynum

Speed/energy: Farmar, Sasha, Ariza, Odom, Turiaf; or: Farmar, Sasha, Kobe, Ariza, Turiaf

Defense: Fisher, Kobe, Ariza, Turiaf/Odom, Bynum

Shooting: Fisher, Sasha, Kobe, Radmanovic, Turiaf

Big: Kobe, Ariza, Odom, Gasol, Bynum

Small: Fisher, Farmar, Kobe, Ariza/Walton, Odom

The possibilities go on and on. This smells like a title team.

I asked the guys from the very good Three Shades of Blue blog that covers the Grizzlies for some insights into Pau. Chip sent in this:

Pau Gasol is one of the most talented big men in the game. He can score with either hand and is nearly unstoppable when aggressive against single coverage. He is also unselfish with the ball and when outnumbered is extremely good at finding the open man. His passes are usually on target which can lead to a lot of open shots for teammates. His range is almost out to the three-point line but he is most effective when his back is to the basket within a few feet of the paint. He has a quick first step that can beat most bigs to the hoop as well.

The problem for Memphis has been not having that second scorer that can keep Gasol from being constantly double teamed. Gasol is extremely weak. He is a turnover waiting to happen when holding the ball as it is easily slapped out of his hand and can easily be knocked off the post by stronger players. Most teams defend Gasol with their center because Pau wears out quickly from being leaned on and that has made him ineffective late in games. His free throw shooting has dramatically improved this season but not unlike Shaq, you don’t want him on the line when the game is in doubt.

Pau’s weaknesses on defense are well known but also somewhat exaggerated. He is adequate defending big men but struggles denying drives into the lane. In Memphis this often made him look out of place defensively since he struggled denying lay-ups from slashers in the lane and when he was able to stop the drive it was rare that someone rotated to cover his man. Gasol’s blocks usually are off the ball helping out teammates instead of in someone’s face. This gives him the reputation of being a poor defender. He isn’t great but he is better than it appeared in Memphis.

Rebounds come to Gasol because of his size but he struggles when forced to muscle a board in a crowd. His numbers usually come from long rebounds and situations when the defense is retreating on defense. He is not someone to count on getting the important boards in crunch time.

What I (and many commenters here) have noted is that the things that are weaknesses in Pau’s game are things he will not be asked to do a ton of in LA, once Bynum returns. It is Bynum that blocks shots in the paint, Bynum that grabs all those boards, Bynum that can body the big center on the other team. What I’ve seen of him, particularly in international ball where he is surrounded by good talent, is that he understands the team game. He’s got a great basketball IQ. And those things will help him thrive in Phil Jackson’s system.

Josh from Three Shades of Blue added a few quirky things to look for:

Checking for blood. He hasn’t done it much this season, but it is a Gasol staple move after getting smacked in the face and not receiving a call.

The Jersey Pop. He busted that one out this year and often does it at seemingly strange moments, like he’s not entirely sure when to use it. It is high comedy.

The way he offsets his lower jaw while shooting free throws.

On the flip side of this trade, I really hope for the best for Javaris Crittenton, I think he is very talented and when he learns to get his game under control he is going to be very good. I hope Kwame is happy wherever he ends up.

And I hope, for the sake of the fans in Memphis, that their ownership (whoever it might be by next year) and their GM really do have a good plan. As regular readers here know, I believe that organizations win – there’s a reason the Lakers win so much under Buss, that the Spurs have been so good for so long, that Detroit has done what it has done. These are organizations with a top-down plan. Memphis, if it really has one of those, is in a position with some smart drafts and signings to do what Portland had done in recent years. This kind of rebuilding chance is somewhat rare. We’ll see what they do with it.

As for me, I’m going to open some really good scotch and soak this all in for a little while longer. It’s a good day to be a Lakers fan.