Report: Lakers interested in Raja Bell
NOV 23, 2012 2:52p ET
Bell, a feisty defender who played for Coach Mike D'Antoni with the Phoenix Suns, is in the final year of his contract, earning $3.48 million. The Jazz and Bell tried to negotiate a buyout over the summer but were unable to agree to terms. Bell was instead asked to not come to camp in Utah and has been working out independently.
At 36 years old, Bell wouldn't make the Lakers any younger but he's a capable veteran who played the best basketball of his career for D'Antoni. Prior to signing with the Jazz, Kobe Bryant reached out to Bell, hoping to convince him to sign with the Lakers. Instead Bell took a three-year, $10 million deal with Utah.
Currently the Lakers have a full roster of 15 players. Neither Robert Sacre nor Darius Johnson-Odom has a guaranteed deal but both represent what little youth the team has to develop.
The team hasn't played Devin Ebanks since he was arrested Nov. 9 on suspicion of DUI. Because he signed the team's qualifying offer ($1.05 million) as a restricted free agent, Ebanks has the authority to block a trade.
While the Lakers don't need four point guards long-term, with Steve Nash out indefinitely with a leg injury and Steve Blake out with an abdominal strain, veteran Chris Duhon has become an important part of the rotation behind second-year guard Darius Morris.
The only Lakers who legally can be traded straight up for Bell would be Blake or Duhon. Jordan Hill's salary matches but the forward cannot be dealt until Dec. 15, since he recently signed a contract with the Lakers. Hill would be an unlikely option for the Lakers, given his role in the rotation as the primary backup to both Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.
The Lakers could look to package multiple players to Utah but even the combination of Earl Clark and Ebanks isn't quite enough to acquire Bell. The Jazz also have a full roster of 15 players (although three aren't guaranteed).
Technically a combination of Jodie Meeks and Clark would properly match Bell's salary but Meeks cannot be dealt until Dec. 15.
There's no sense the Lakers are near any deal but given the team's lack of bench production, they're certain to be linked to many players before the trade deadline.
The Jazz may eventually buy out Bell, at which point the Lakers may consider opening up a spot in the roster.