Caught in the Web: Trades dominate discussion as deadline looms
The Lakers surely aren't eliciting headlines involving trade talks, like the Dallas Mavericks did, with their recent deal with Washington that brought Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson to the Mavericks in exchange for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross. Or how about the Clippers, who are trading veteran Marcus Camby for Portland forward Travis Outlaw, guard Steve Blake and some cash? Camby told The Times' Kevin Baxter on Monday he wanted to stay, and apparently his teammates wanted to keep hm around. One Clipper told Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears, "“All the guys are upset because our best defensive player got traded basically for a backup point guard and money.”
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak recently told The Times' Mike Bresnahan not to anticipate any significant trades (like say Amare Stoudemire). Kupchak told the same thing to Lakers.com's Mike Trudell, but added he is willing to make "tweaks" before Thursday's trade deadline.
The most often talked about "tweak" involves Chicago Bulls forward Kirk Hinrich, who wants to remain a Bull but as often been linked with the Lakers. The combinations appear wide-ranging, going from Jordan Farmar, Adam Morrison and Josh Powell (ESPN insider subscription required), to Shannon Brown and Morrison, to Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic and a three-team trade in which Vujacic would ultimately land in Portland.
But there are complications with all those scenarios, namely involving salary cap implications. And there's also belief that the Lakers are fine with what they have, what with leading the Western Conference with a 41-13 record. Though acknowledging it as a problem, ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky explains why the Lakers' poor point guard play isn't as bad as it seems. The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding argues Vujacic could still provide value to the Lakers. And Forum Blue and Gold raises concerns on how any trade could disrupt team dynamics.
One thing is sure, though. Other teams are making trades to best position themselves to move up the NBA rankings and eventually unseat the defending league champions. Oh yeah, and another thing: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and center Andrew Bynum will return Tuesday night against Golden State, a news item that would get buried during this time of year.
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Photo: Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak says he doesn't plan on making any "significant" trades as the Feb. 18 trade deadline looms. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times