The Los Angeles Lakers have more or less come to terms with the fact that this season is lost. At 25-29, they sit 10th in the Western Conference and appear to have slim to no chance of making the playoffs.
A number of massive, franchise-changing deals have been discussed over the past few weeks, but because of Pau Gasol’s injury and Dwight Howard's value being at an all-time low, none of those swaps are particularly feasible at the moment.
So what does all that mean? Well, it means that if the Lakers make a move, it will be a tiny one. It will be one that recognizes the team’s inevitable fate this season, and one that doesn’t hamper all involved financially for the next few years.
The most sensible addition L.A. can make at this point is a cheap big man. With Gasol and Jordan Hill hurt, and Howard playing at 75 percent (at best), it would make sense for Mitch Kupchak to go out and bring in a post presence of some sort to hold the Lakers over for the time being. One possible option, apparently, is Jermaine O’Neal.
As reported by the Arizona Republic:
“O’Neal said he would like “to stay and fight with the boys” but did not dismiss the thought of joining a contender for the stretch run. He would be an upgrade at backup center in Oklahoma City and closer to his family in Dallas. The Lakers would benefit from him but the Suns could not afford to help the Lakers and risk the chance of losing a second lottery pick because they own the Lakers’ first-round pick without protection from the Steve Nash sign-and-trade deal.”
O’Neal has averaged seven points and five rebounds in 37 games with Phoenix this year. He has already played more games than he had in his prior two seasons with the Boston Celtics.
Of course, just because adding a big man makes sense for L.A. doesn’t mean that’s what the team is actually going to add.
Mike D'Antoni has remained intrigued with bringing exiled Jazz guard Raja Bell to Lakers, sources say.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 19, 2013
Will either of these deals happen? We’ll find out soon enough.