This is going to be a summer of change for the Los Angeles Lakers. Whether that change leads to a superstar-for-superstar or superstar-for-cap space swap remains to be seen, but there will definitely be changes made. At the moment, all signs point to the first option being more realistic than the second but, really, nothing is guaranteed in the Jim Buss era.
Presuming that management doesn’t opt to give up and abandon a final championship run in Kobe Bryant’s twilight years, Mitch Kupchak and Co. will use either Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol as trade bait for someone new. Dwight Howard, Deron Williams and, to a lesser degree, Andre Iguodala have all been mentioned as potential targets. Unfortunately, reports out of Dwight Howard’s camp have consistently noted that he isn’t as high on L.A. as he is on the Brooklyn Nets, and the deal for Iguodala doesn’t seem like it would be as impactful as the other two.
That largely unspoken of potential Williams deal, though, that has some promise. And according to a recent piece by Sam Amick, the Lakers may have a better shot at acquiring Williams’ services than anyone may have originally anticipated. Per the report:
For the Lakers, Williams could be a possibility if Howard is not. A source close to the three-time All-Star said he would be interested in joining the Lakers, though it would have to be via a sign-and-trade deal. (Lakers point guard Ramon Sessions, who was acquired from Cleveland at the trade deadline, has a $4.5 million player option for next season.)
The source said Williams' preference, however, is for the Nets to improve the roster sufficiently enough that he can feel good about staying put rather than fear a repeat of this season, when they finished 22-44. As for Dallas, which sacrificed its best chance to defend the title by preserving salary-cap space last summer in anticipation of this free-agent class, the source said of the Mavericks: "There's no longevity there." If owner Mark Cuban can clear enough space to sign a worthy sidekick for Williams, though, then maybe Williams would join his hometown team after all.
While that’s admittedly not the most enthusiastic endorsement of a Williams-to-L.A. deal that you’ll ever hear, it’s a good start. The mere fact that he’s open to the move is a welcome change from I-don’t-want-to-play-second-fiddle-to-Kobe attitude that Howard had heading into last year’s trade deadline.
The biggest problem with this potential transaction is what the Nets would get in return from the Lakers. They have their center of the future in Brook Lopez, so they don’t really need Bynum. And the squad is far too young to want Gasol, who -- if traded -- would likely land on a team that’s one post presence short of contending (Chicago Bulls?).
We’ll keep an eye on these rumors as they continue to develop.