4 Trades Los Angeles Lakers Could Make This Summer

It’s no news – the Los Angeles Lakers are a mess right now. A team which was predicted to be a lock for the NBA finals, crumbled during the course of the regular season and eventually got swept in the first round of the playoffs. Now, the future of the prominent franchise depends on whether a certain 27-year-old from Atlanta picks up a pen and puts his signature on a contract extension.

Even assuming Dwight Howard does re-sign with the Lakers, it doesn’t solve the team’s short-term issues. Going into next season, the team will have very little flexibility in free agency due to their salary cap situation, and any big-time free agent signing (other than Howard) is out of the question. Keeping that in mind, the only way this old and flawed roster can improve is by trading for other players. The Lakers do have some tradable contracts, and making a big move in the summer is not out of the question.

Kobe Bryant will not be back in time for the start of the season. Let’s assume Howard re-signs and Bryant returns somewhere in the middle of the season. Without making any moves, there is no way this team can contend or even make a deep playoff run. Not unless they trade.

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So, after jumping onto the ESPN trade machine, I’ve thrown together a couple of hypothetical trades, which could potentially be feasible and perhaps help the Lakers’ case.

Nov 10, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani (7) during their game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Air Canada Centre. The 76ers beat the Raptors 93-83. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

TRADE 1 (LINK TO ESPN TRADE MACHINE)

Los Angeles Lakers Receive – Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson

Toronto Raptors Receive – Pau Gasol

Why this trade could happen…

It’s not really a secret that the Lakers have been shopping Gasol. Now that he will be entering the final year of his contract, a lot of teams could be lining up to acquire him (for different reasons). Meanwhile, the Raptors can’t wait to get rid of Bargnani’s contract, but at the same time, they don’t want to take back a long-term contract.

By getting Gasol, the Raptors would have a very strong starting lineup going into the 2013-14 campaign, which would aid the team’s playoff aspirations. They’d rather keep Amir Johnson around for frontcourt depth, but getting rid of Bargnani has its price.

For the Lakers, Bargnani would fit Mike D’Antoni’s system better than Gasol. Andrea could set up a tent and camp out at the perimeter and stretch the floor, while Howard wouldn’t have to share his touches in the post. An inside-out type of offense would be a great weapon to have. Furthermore, Johnson would add some much-needed frontcourt depth, as Earl Clark is an unrestricted free agent this summer.

…And why it probably won’t

The biggest hindrance here is the long-term money that the Lakers would take. Taking on Bargnani’s contract would limit L.A. in the 2014-15 free agency, when Steve Nash, and potentially Howard, would be the only players with guaranteed contracts.

 

April 17, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Jared Dudley (3) during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 118-98. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

TRADE 2 (LINK TO ESPN TRADE MACHINE)

Los Angeles Lakers Receive – Jared Dudley

Phoenix Suns Receive - Jordan Hill (or Steve Blake)

Why this trade could happen…

This would be a trade of the smaller variety. The Lakers desperately need someone who can stretch the floor and preferably play multiple positions. Dudley, a 40.5% career 3-point shooter, fits the bill. Dudley is listed at 6-foot-7 and is a big guard, who the Lakers could throw into all kinds of funky lineups. Jared also has a lovely contract, which doesn’t hurt.

In return for Dudley, the Suns could ask for either Jordan Hill or Steve Blake. Phoenix is pretty much the biggest mess in the league right now, but they are not opposed to trading Dudley. Right around the trade deadline, the Suns wanted to acquire Iman Shumpert in a deal that would send Dudley to the New York Knicks.

…And why it probably won’t

The deal breaker here is what the Lakers can offer in return for Dudley. Phoenix will be entering a rebuilding stage and will look for young pieces. Neither Steve Blake nor Jordan Hill fit the young-and-talented description. The only hope the Lakers would have to swing this deal would be if they went out and traded either Hill or Blake for a younger player with potential. Having Hill backing Marcin Gortat at center is a decent option, but not if you have to give up Dudley.

 

Apr 14, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Steve Novak (16) reacts after scoring a three pointer during the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 90-80. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

TRADE 3 (LINK TO ESPN TRADE MACHINE)

Los Angeles Lakers receive – Steve Novak

New York Knicks receive – Steve Blake (or Jordan Hill)

Why this trade could happen…

Novak was a big part of the Knicks’ rotation in the regular season, but has been shut out in the playoffs. If he is not going to play a pivotal role in the rotation when games get serious, there is probably little reason to keep him around. In return, the Knicks could pick either Hill or Blake. As for the Lakers, it’s self-explanatory. They need a shooter. Novak is one of the best.

…And why it probably won’t

A lot of ifs here. If Jason Kidd retires after this season, Blake could fill the veteran backup point guard role Mike Woodson apparently seems to cherish so much. There is a good chance that Kidd plays another year, and if he doesn’t, the Knicks would probably just re-sign Pablo Prigioni. It’s a long shot. Jordan Hill could play some backup minutes at the center. Then again, New York has Marcus Camby, if he sticks around.

 

Apr 26, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward/center Kevin Garnett (5) and small forward Paul Pierce (34) sit on the bench during the fourth quarter of game three of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs against the New York Knicks at TD Garden. New York Knicks won 90-76. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

TRADE 4 (LINK TO ESPN TRADE MACHINE)

Los Angeles Lakers receive – Paul Pierce

Boston Celtics receive – Pau Gasol

Why this trade could happen…

It seems as though Danny Ainge is ready to blow the Celtics up, and Paul Pierce could be the one to go first. Pierce is in the last year of his contract and would bring some much-needed versatility to the Lakers. D’Antoni could play around with some small lineups, putting Pierce at the 4 and Metta World Peace at the 3.

If the Celtics trade Pierce, Kevin Garnett would probably either retire or waive his no-trade clause and look for a last shot at a championship run. Gasol would take Garnett’s position, while the Celtics could look for some young pieces in return for KG. The Celtics would still remain competitive, without jeopardizing their future flexibility in free agency too much.

…And why it probably won’t

If Ainge does blow it up, he would probably look for young pieces in return for Pierce. As these are hard to come by considering Paul’s salary, there is probably a higher chance that the team waives him, as only a third of Pierce’s salary is guaranteed.

By acquiring Pierce, the Lakers would still have a major gap at the 4 spot. While playing small is all fun and good, the team would probably still want to start with a legit power forward. Besides, Paul wouldn’t exactly help the Lakers’ defense, which is atrocious as it is.

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The worst part about Lakers’ situation is that they really only have a handful of tradable contracts. As such, it’s quite hard to find mutually beneficial deals out there.

What do you think about these hypothetical trades? Let us know in the comment section down below.

 

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