There has been much speculation as to who will be on the Lakers roster in the future because there are so many players on one-year expiring contracts. Let’s ignore the draft right now and focus on what the Lakers currently have to work with. For the upcoming 2014-2015 season, the only players still under contract will be Nash, Kobe, Sacre, Young, and Marshall; all other Lakers contracts expire after the end of this current season. Of those players with expiring contracts, it would be highly beneficial to make efforts to keep Jordan Hill and Ryan Kelly, who have proven to provide heart, energy, and productivity for the Lakers this season. If the Lakers were smart, they would be looking to make moves before the trade deadline on February 20th.
Let’s analyze some of the players that have been recently popping up in trade talks. Eric Gordon of the New Orleans Pelicans would be a nice piece to add to the Lakers roster. He’s an aggressive shooting guard that can also run the point and could possibly be a good fit for Mike D’Antoni’s style of play. This season Gordon has been averaging 15.9 points per game and 3.2 assists, and he’s kept his turnovers to about 2 per game; this would be a significant improvement for the point guard position for the Lakers, especially seeing as how since Kendall Marshall’s insertion into the lineup, the Lakers turnovers per game have actually increased. Gordon is also shooting almost 41% from downtown, so that has got to be appealing to D’Antoni as well, seeing as how he loves to live and die by the 3 point shot.
Paul Milsap is also a player that has been discussed in recent trade talks. He has been averaging 17.7 points per game and 8.2 rebounds this season with the Atlanta Hawks. Milsap would be a great addition to the Lakers because he would add some attitude and intensity in the paint while also providing some rim protection (which this season’s Lakers squad has seriously been lacking). If the Lakers were to either trade or lose Pau Gasol to free agency, Milsap would be able to at least match the numbers Gasol has been putting up this season while improving the defense.
Speaking of improving defense, Greg Monroe would also be a good young piece to add to the roster. Monroe did not receive a contract extension from the Detroit Pistons and it does not appear as though they have any interest in keeping him moving forward. He’s a young player that still has great upside, and with the right mentoring he could turn out to be a quality big man.
No, these options may not seem to be the most ideal or the solution to the recent woes of the Lakers, but they are options nonetheless. Let’s consider trading Steve Nash, who has contributed anywhere form 0% – 1% since being acquired in the 2012-2013 season. Nash is on the books for one more season and is set to get paid $9.7 million for the 2014-15 season, but has proven to be a waste of money to say the least. Trading Pau Gasol also wouldn’t be such a bad idea either because he has already voiced that he is going to pursue free agency after his contract with the Lakers is up. Trading him by the deadline not only help them acquire a good player, but because they would also get some kind of value for Gasol’s contract before it goes to waste.
Nash and Gasol are both significant bargaining chips for the Lakers. Considering getting rid of Nash’s salary would help the Lakers in the long run: they could trade Nash and another expiring contract now and get a player like Paul Milsap (who is locked at $9.5 million until the end of next season). Greg Monroe (set to make about $10.2 million in the 2014-15 season) would also be a smart trade option. Eric Gordon would be a little more difficult to acquire because he is making about $14.3 million this year and is set to make about another $15 million next year with a player option.
In the end, it would prove to be wise for the Lakers to try to make some kind of move(s) before the February 20th trade deadline. Money management is a pertinent issue, but so is acquiring talent. There are a lot of moves that can still be made that can aid the Lakers in upcoming seasons. Miracles don’t happen overnight, but trades can.