Lakers Mailbag: Laker fans love trade talk
Every week, I'm going to clean out my inbox and answer a few Lakers-related questions. Whether it's about free agency, the Lakers' chances to win the NBA title next season or something offbeat, fire away your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comment threads below.
1. Would Jim Buss, who had a major hand in hiring Mike Brown, honestly not consider trading Bynum for Howard? Howard is a DEFENSIVE beast! -- notjakelane (via Twitter)
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that Buss made it clear that Bynum was "untouchable in trade talks." That makes sense for about 99% of deals because it's very hard to replace Bynum's 7-foot presence, and one of the Lakers' main threats involves their size advantage, even if Bynum has an extensive history of injuries. But if the Lakers have a chance to trade Bynum for Dwight Howard, the Lakers' brass would need to stop Jim Buss from being so stubborn. Overall, though, I agree with my colleague Mike Bresnahan, who argues that there is an 85% chance Bynum will be with the Lakers next season.
The only scenario Bynum should worry about involves the Lakers getting Howard, but it's way too early to tell whether that's feasible. The Magic, like all the other teams, are aware of Bynum's injury history. Even though Howard made it pretty clear he wanted to leave Orlando if they didn't acquire the necessary pieces to win a championship, the Magic aren't yet at the same point as the Denver Nuggets were in trading Carmelo Anthony. Howard, like Anthony, refused to sign an extension, but Orlando hasn't yet believed that an exit is inevitable.
2. All I want to know is ... any signs that Odom might leave??? -- Demyo via Twitter
It shouldn't be surprising if that happened. As reported by The Times' Broderick Turner, the Minnesota Timberwolves already rejected the Lakers' offer to trade Lamar Odom in exchange for their No. 2 pick to get Derrick Williams. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak charged that the numerous trade reports were "agent driven" in regard to the Lakers' proposed offer to Minnesota, and a report by Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick said the Lakers and Sixers were discussing a possible Odom for Andre Iguodala. Kupchak also said that he wouldn't anticipate those scenarios happening, but that doesn't mean what was reported wasn't true.
In fact, The Times' Mike Bresnahan believes there's only a 60% chance Odom will be back. As much as he's turned a corner in his career by winning the Sixth Man of the Year award, Odom's two-year, $17-million contract makes him attractive to other teams. His versatility also makes him an easier sell.
3. What is Steve Blake's future after a terrible 1st year? Can he be the pg they hoped? He proved he could not defend as thought. Do you think Fish is willing to come off the bench in order to get a more athletic guard? -- doublebuffalo via Twitter
Whoa, that's a lot of questions! I may have to set a quota next time, but I'll tackle them all for now. I don't think any Lakers bench player should feel safe about his future, but Blake's contract (three years, $12 million) and subpar season (four points on 36%) should make him even less attractive to other teams.
But there's no question his role will change if the Lakers manage to acquire additional backcourt talent, or if the Lakers' draft picks (Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock) appear NBA ready. I think Blake will handle the reduced role well because he, almost to a fault, always wanted to try to accommodate teammates without stepping on their toes. Fisher's situation is a bit more interesting. He was demoted to a bench role in the 2003-04 season after the Lakers brought in Gary Payton, and Fisher reluctantly bit his tongue. Fisher is a consummate professional, but he's publicly acknowledged that he places great importance on the fact that he starts. There could be some contentious conversations with the coaching staff, but he'll make sure they don't spill into the locker room.
-- Mark Medina
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Photos, from top: Magic center Dwight Howard during an April 28, 2011, playoff game against the Atlanta Hawks. Credit: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images. Photo: Lamar Odom. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times. Photo: Lakers guard Steve Blake, right, scrambles for the ball against Raymond Felton of the Denver Nuggets. Credit: EPA / Paul Buck