NBA deadline approaches, time for change
Not even a mutiny against Mike Brown can save the Lakers.
Honestly. Kobe Bryant and the gang can gripe about their new coach’s philosophy all they want, but the bottom line is the Lakers need a point guard. Maybe not more than they need Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum, but without someone skilled in the area of distribution and floor leadership, the Lakers have no chance to win another championship.
The question is, can they get that type of point guard before the March 15 trading deadline without giving up Gasol or Bynum?
The short answer is yes.
The Lakers don’t need Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook or Rajon Rondo. They just need someone to keep things moving, get the ball to Bryant, Gasol and Bynum and at least be a little bit of threat to take over himself. The last part is something neither Derek Fisher nor Steve Blake provides.
Of course, the Lakers aren’t the only team thinking a run at a title is within reach with the right move.
The Celtics think they can be right there, too. Same goes for the Clippers.
And let’s not forget the Magic, who seem to think surrounding Dwight Howard with a few new parts iis a better idea than shipping him off to a faraway place. And hey, you can’t really blame them, can you?
Most of the wannabe title contenders are correct. The right deal could indeed catapult them back into the championship chase, making them relevant again in what appears to be a four- or five-team race headed by the Bulls, Heat and Thunder. You have to figure the defending champion Mavericks and last-chance Spurs may be in there, too.
But the Lakers, Celtics, Clippers and Magic? Well, as currently constructed, they are little more than playoff sleepers.
That can change quickly. But it means taking a risk, unloading a player or two whom you really like, and praying the guys you get back mesh well with the leftovers.
And now, any team hoping to make a championship run has less than a week to make the necessary repairs.
Here’s a quick rundown on the teams that fit that description most:
Most Pressing Need: Point guard.
Possible Targets: Ramon Sessions (Cavaliers); Kyle Lowry (Rockets); C.J. Watson (Bulls).
Summary: Sessions likely will cost them one of their two first-rounders in the upcoming draft. Lowry likely would cost them Gasol. Watson could be had cheaper, but would he really be much of an upgrade?
What They Should Do: Odds are against the Lakers finding a player of Sessions’ caliber with either of their draft picks. Even they do, next season will be too late. So give up a pick and go get him.
Most Pressing Need: Shooting guard.
Possible Targets: Jamal Crawford (Trail Blazers); Ray Allen (Celtics); Kirk Hinrich (Hawks).
Summary: It likely wouldn’t take much to land Crawford or Hinrich. Probably just underused youngster Eric Bledsoe and someone else minor. Allen, however, would come at a much steeper price. But with Chauncey Billups out for the year, it may be a price worth considering.
What They Should Do: Stay the course and go after a Hinrich-type. Nobody expected them to win it all this year. So there’s no need to give up too much for someone like Allen, then have it not pay off and hinder your future.
Most Pressing Need: Center, bench help.
Possible Targets: Michael Beasley (Timberwolves); Chris Kaman (Hornets); J.J. Hickson (Kings).
Summary: The rumored Jermaine O’Neal-for-Beasley swap died once it was determined O’Neal’s wrist injury might mean the end of his season. It might not, but he’s no longer considered a worthy trading chip. Kaman would be another difficult acquisition, as the C’s likely would need to surrender too much. That may leave Hickson as a viable, if not previously considered, option.
What They Should Do: Call the Kings. If Hickson is really available, and can really be had for next to nothing, then why not? Maybe some time getting yelled at by Kevin Garnett (which we all know would happen) would rejuvenate Hickson’s career.
Most Pressing Need: Keeping Howard happy.
Possible Targets: Monta Ellis (Warriors); Steve Nash (Suns); Beasley.
Summary: You’ve certainly heard the rumors that the Suns are unwilling to part with Nash and the Warriors are clinging to Ellis even tighter. In other words, the Magic likely would have to give up too much to obtain either player. But at this point, it might not be a bad idea to seek a little advice from Howard himself.
What They Should Do: Ask Howard what it will take to get him to stay, see if it’s feasible, then give it a shot. If not, trade him to the highest bidder by March 15. Good luck.
Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO