Kobe Bryant is supposed to, at least go the rumors, return from his Achilles injury on Christmas Day when the Lakers host two-time champion Miami. Though the way the Lakers are going, he might want to extend that a bit after yet another blowout loss, this time to the Minnesota Timberwolves. And yes, the Lakers would love to have their roster. Since the Lakers barely have much themselves.
It looks like Steve Nash could be gone awhile, if not for good now with what may be serious back problems. And the guess is Pau Gasol won’t be far behind. It won’t be easy, but the belief is the Lakers want to get something for free agent Gasol rather than see him leave without compensation after this season. Despite what the personable and professional Gasol says publicly, he’s supposedly run his course with the Lakers as well. It’s been a tough start for Gasol, averaging career lows of 12 points and 35 percent shooting. The weight of having to carry the Lakers without Bryant is obviously too much.
"It's pretty obvious I have got to be sharper,” Gasol told L.A. media last week. “I might not have all the speed and the explosiveness that I used to have years ago. But I still have to use my experience and my fundamentals to be able to be effective every single night."
The issue in trading Gasol is his $19.2 million salary with 15 percent additional if traded. But I’ve got a spot: Memphis. Back home and with brother, Marc, and a return like with Mike Miller this season. The Grizzlies are off to an uneven start with some apparent issues as rumors have percolated for months of interest in trading Zach Randolph. The latest a few weeks back had them offering Randolph for Eric Gordon. Everyone denied it. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Marc Gasol said last week it was obvious players were not on “the same page.” The general consensus seems to be the Lakers don’t want to take on any contracts to maintain salary cap room after this season for free agency and perhaps Carmelo Anthony. I guess it’s possible, but I hardly see Anthony giving up tens of millions of dollars to come watch Bryant shoot.
Sure, Pau makes a lot. But the Grizzlies owe Zach Randolph $17 million for next season as well. Trading for Pau actually saves them money in the long run. And as Memphis has made no secret their future core is to build around Marc and Mike Conley, a return could invigorate Pau and put him as a second or third option where he is more comfortable. And out of the pressure of L.A.
Randolph, meanwhile, would be a strong piece for Bryant as he’s younger and more productive than Pau. And better for the Lakers to save the money for future free agent classes, which will be better than this summer’s. It’s just an idea.
I’ve got a few others.
Obviously, there’s the Dwight Howard/Omer Asik issue in Houston. But perhaps rather than the stretch four for Asik, like New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson, as some have suggested, it seems perhaps more obvious the Rockets need a point guard. Asik to the Celtics — get him out of the conference — for Rajon Rondo, who is a free agent after next season? Despite a reasonably good start, it’s difficult to see the Celtics contending by 2015. They could easily lose Rondo for nothing and all Asik wants to do it start somewhere.
Case No. 3 is Evan Turner. The Chicago product is off to the best start of his career, averaging 23.4 per game with more freedom without former coach Doug Collins. But Turner has been fairly open about possibly being moved since he wasn’t offered an extension.
"I'm going to keep getting better,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer last week. “Somebody is going to get a gem. You know what I'm saying?"
Though the 76ers also started surprisingly well, their future is the future. They don’t need to do well, and it seems likely they and Turner have no plans for one another. Even local media have suggested a trade to protect the 76ers’ future. So why not?
How about to the Cavs for the former Ohio State star? The Cavs have room under the salary cap to absorb the salary or throw in a prospect along with maybe a protected No. 1 pick. The Cavs want to make the playoffs and small forward has been a hole with Earl Clark already benched for Alonzo Gee. Yes, the Alonzo Gee.