Blog Entry

Lakers GM open to considering a trade

Posted on: February 1, 2011 1:28 am
Edited on: February 1, 2011 1:29 am
With Lakers underperforming, GM Mitch Kupchak says he "may have to look into a trade."
Posted by Matt Moore

The Lakers are 1-5 against top echelon teams. Phil Jackson couldn't care less. Kobe Bryant is beyond angry. And General Manager Mitch Kupchak? He's talking T-word. Trade. From the Los Angeles Times:

"Yes . . . I may have to look into a trade, but I'm not saying we have "talked to other teams yet, Kupchak said. "We have not been playing up to our level and I dont know why. Maybe its complacency. Im not sure."
via Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak says hes thought about making a trade -

A trade? By the defending champs? Could this be happening? Even with the measured and cautious words being tossed around by Kupchak, that's a pretty stunning development even if the Lakers are simply considering a trade. This is a team that has looked every bit like a Finals contender, unless they've been facing an elite team this year. It's also a team that's notorious for not taking teams seriously, having gone seven games with a Yao-less Rockets squad in 2009, having a terrible second half last year, and letting the Suns push them in the Western Conference Finals using a zone, for crying out loud. You have to think this is just an emotional quote from Kupchak revealing a frustration with the team's play, or at least a Jackson-like motivational tactic.

Even stranger than the idea of the Lakers needing to make a trade is the idea of what trade they would be able to make. Every Laker of consequence with any value, contract or skill-wise, has at least two more years left on their deals. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are obviously not even in this discussion. So what are the next options?
  • Lamar Odom- Trade Status: Obscenely unlikely. Odom is the quintessential heart and soul of this club. He's found a home there and has flourished when his head is plugged in. What's more, he's part of the reason for the Lakers' absurd length advantage. When Odom is on, the Lakers are nearly unstoppable. Moving him would garner the best set of assets, but who could they get for him, with nearly $9 million on the books for next season, even with his 2013 salary non-guaranteed at $8.2 million?
  • Andrew Bynum- Trade Status: Pretty unlikely. Bynum has been involved in trade rumors for years due to his inconsistency, rehab work ethic, and injuries. Yet it was his toughness fighting through the Finals last spring on a torn ligament that helped assure the Lakers a title. He's now considered an invaluable part of the offense, and his improving defense, combined with his willingness to give a hard foul, means he's the backbone of what has been a very soft Lakers interior lately. Combine that with the difficulty of getting teams to invest in someone with his injury history, and the near-$15 million on the books for next year and a team option for over $16 million the next, and it's hard to see a suitor for Bynum that would keep the Lakers in contention.
  • Ron Artest- Trade Status: Difficult: From zero to hero to zero again. Artest struggled all last year trying to learn the Triangle, was terrible at times in the playoffs, then hit the biggest hot of his career to help clinch a title for the Lakers (as well as a tip-in in the Western Conference Finals) and was everyone's hero. This year? Back to the doghouse. If anyone's to be moved, it's probably Artest, but that says more about where Ron's sunk to rather than where his value is at. Getting anything for someone who's been such a pain for so many teams with over $21 million left on his contract after this year is difficult. When it's Ron Artest? Even harder.
  • Luke Walton- Trade Status: Ha-ha-ha-ha: Yes, because I'm sure that what GMs with a valuable commodity are thinking is "Oh, we can get the 28th pick in the draft and Luke Walton with over $11 million left on his contract over the next two years? Who wouldn't do that deal?" Walton's contract is slowly reaching movable status after an ill-advised extension, but he's a long ways away from upgrade-bait. 
  • Steve Blake- Trade Status- Limited: Blake's got three years after this one for a combined roughly $14 million, is a serviceable point guard, and fits easy into a rotation. So he's got some value. But in terms of trying to get a major upgrade, he'd have to be packaged with one of the above candidates in order for it to make any sense. He can act as icing on the cake, but even then, having three years left on his deal may make it a little too sweet for most. 
  • Derek Fisher - Trade Status: Laughable: The Lakers would never give up their most veteran leader who everyone came up to and thanked after winning the last title. Bryant would never stand to lose the guy he's been to the playoffs with the most. Not everyone can run the Triangle point guard position... okay, that's a lie. Pretty much everyone can dribble the ball up, pass it to Kobe Bryant, and then go sit in a corner and often get blown by on defense. But Fisher's hit too many huge shots in Laker history to be forsaken. And no one is looking to pay him another $6.8 million for two more years. 
  • Shannon Brown- Trade Status: Intriguing, if unlikely: Brown failed to fetch any significant offers on the open market this summer, so who's going to trade for him now, even in a career year for him? He's got great upside and has looked like a possible building block, but who doesn't when they're running next to this team? Brown's cheap and his contract is flexible, but he's not going to cash in any huge superstar on the open market. 
  • Matt Barnes- Trade Status: Injured: Barnes is injured for a few more weeks, his contract's too low to matter, and the only teams that would be interested in him are contenders, the sort of teams that would never give up valuable assets to the defending champs. 

So while Kupchak may be looking to try and upgrade his team, Michael Heisley and Chris Wallace aren't walking through that door. Even with the Nuggets being dragged slowly towards the inescapable black hole in the reality that they have to trade Carmelo Anthony, and the Sixers wanting to offload Iguodala to make room for their rebuilding project, or the Suns in near full-on blow-up mode, no one's going to be looking to the Lakers to cash in.  The Lakers are on top, and have spent a lot to get to the top. They're loaded with talent, but it's not talent that garners a lot on the market. 

After all, how do you possibly get great return on trading members of the most talented team in the league? Instead, I think the Lakers will take the Phil Jackson approach. Sit back, relax, coast through the next four months, and flip the switch when it counts. They've done it before. They'll do it again. 

Since: Feb 2, 2011
Posted on: February 2, 2011 4:05 pm

Lakers GM open to considering a trade

Wishful thinking and I have no idea if salaries would match up or even come close to matching up, but why not facilitate a trade with Sacramento? Many of their players are unhappy and want out, so here's what I propose:

Lakers get: Udrih, Dalembert, Landry, Casspi, Garcia, Head, Jackson, and Jeter

Kings get: Bynum, Fisher, Barnes, Blake, Caracter, Ebanks, Ratliff, Smith, and Walton

Lakers Depth Chart:
C: Gasol, Dalembert
PF: Odom, Landry, Jackson
SF: Artest, Casspi
SG: Bryant, Garcia, Brown
PG: Udrih, Head, Jeter

Kings Depth Chart:
C: Bynum, Whiteside, Ratliff
PF: Cousins, Thompson, Caracter, Smith
SF: Greene, Barnes, Ebanks, Walton
SG: Evans, Taylor
PG: Fisher, Blake

Obviously a huge trade and very unlikely the Lakers would overhaul their team to this extent, but it would address both teams shortcomings; The Lakers would have an energetic, experienced and versatile bench that would be hungry for a title after being stuck on the such a lousy team and the Kings would be in full on rebuild with proven and vocal veteran leadership that would get the youngsters to buy into Westphal's system and teach them how to be pros.

Thoughts anyone?

Since: Aug 24, 2010
Posted on: February 1, 2011 11:30 am

Lakers GM open to considering a trade

The Lakers have lots of little problems.  It is very difficult to motivate veteran professional players and certainly trade talk is not even worth discussing.  Phil has their respect, but each season is very long and many players are a little older and a little slower, especially on defense. In any case, motivation is not needed when playing against top teams.  Truth is the Lakers are better than last year only on paper, but new role players have not helped and many competitors have improved substantially.  They are not beating the best teams, because they cannot.  Talk all you want about the individual pieces, but they are not the best team in the west.  Phil has good reason for concern.        

Since: Feb 23, 2009
Posted on: February 1, 2011 10:22 am

Lakers GM open to considering a trade

Time and Time again we see that the Regular Season Record has little value. A team just needs to maek the palyoffs, then turn it on and make a run for it. Another Thought would be to fire P Jackson

Since: Jul 9, 2007
Posted on: February 1, 2011 8:15 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Sep 14, 2010
Posted on: February 1, 2011 4:25 am

Lakers GM open to considering a trade

This is just talk to try to fire the team up. The only player worth trading that is worth his weight that is not way overpaid is Gasol and there is no way the team will trade who in my eyes is the best player on the team that goes out and plays hard and doesn't need to feed his ego like the brick thrower. The brick thrower can score 50 but he has to take 40 shots to do in and when the lakers needed the big baskets in last years final it was Fisher that looked like Michael not the brick thrower. The only way ANY team will do any kind of deal with the lakers is if the lakers pick up up about half of their contract. To much dead weight with big contracts.

Since: Oct 10, 2006
Posted on: February 1, 2011 2:16 am

Lakers GM open to considering a trade

I hate to say it, but the problem is the coaching. As brilliant as Phil Jackson is, he's gotten complacent and relies on Kobe to bail them out. The problem is lack of TEAM defense. Odom and Artest are not playing aggressive defense. Blake is liability of defense because of his size despite his effort. They need defense, and better positioning from other guys so that Bynum doesn't suck up all the fouls and get scolded like rookie. Coaching is the problem, Phil bitches out Kobe if Lakers are losing too many games. Kobe could score 50 points a night, but it won't matter unless the Lakers start playing team defense.

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