According to Yahoo! Sports, the Lakers have been trying to thin out their bench players via trade “for weeks” and also have renewed interest in Raja Bell now that Mike D’Antoni is coaching the team.
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Neither of these reports are that shocking: the Lakers have too many point guards, at least when everyone’s healthy, and they also have guys like Devin Ebanks and Earl Clark who are just sat on the bench and not getting any playing time.
The Lakers have tried unsuccessfully for several weeks to trade bench players to create roster space.
“The biggest question is the taking on of more money,” a league source told Yahoo! Sports.
Bell is still under contract with the Jazz, but the team has allowed him to stay away this season until he finds a suitable offer and the two sides can execute a buyout. Once Bell has secured a contract for the veteran’s minimum elsewhere, the Jazz will buy out the difference on the remaining $3.5 million on his 2012-13 contract. Bell wouldn’t lose any money between the buyout and joining a new team.
The question is, if the Lakers did successfully clear space and sign Bell, whose playing time would he take? Jodie Meeks is thought to be a favorite of D’Antoni to play in his offense with his shooting ability – he scored 15 points in 15 minutes last game – and so you’d have to think they’d run Bell at the 3 instead of Antawn Jamison, who has struggled so far.
Before going after Bell, I think I’d rather let Ebanks have a go at the 3 to see what he can do: Raja is 36-years-old now. We have enough older guys out there; we need some youth and speed. Ebanks has both.
To me though, the most interesting part about this news is that the Lakers once again have interest in Bell now D’Antoni is on board. Does this mean the team has gone to Mike and asked him for a list of guys he’d like on the squad? It’s hard to take over a team designed for the Princeton offense when you want to be “Showtime 2″, although already having a guy like Steve Nash should help.
It’s just intriguing to know that the team may be willing to move players for guys who are a better fit for D’Antoni’s system. Josh Smith is obviously a name that’s out there right now. How well does he fit this system though? He can’t shoot. Sure, he can run and he’s good defensively, but shooting the ball is not one of his strong points.
It still may be too early for the Lakers to make any roster moves. Maybe, nearer the trade deadline they might make some tweaks, seeing as everyone – D’Antoni included – should know this group better by then.
Then again, the Lakers only waited five games into the season to fire Mike Brown, so they’re not afraid to make changes. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.