Like many Lakers fans, I often find myself doubting the ability of this year's Lakers squad to compete this year. The Lakers bench this year is the thinnest it's been in years. While the likes of Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, and Shannon Brown were never players to hang your hat on, they certainly had experience on their side. And while rookies Andrew Goudelock and Darrius Morris have shown flashes of serviceability, a more seasoned player would be preferable. The lingering injury to Steve Blake has got concern the Lakers faithful. Additionally, the loss of Lamar Odom and injury to Derrick Caracter has left the Lakers thin upfront as well. Gone are the days when D.J. Mbenga and Theo Ratliff could fill in for the occasional game missed by 1st time All-Star Andrew Bynum. And while Josh McRoberts is slowly becoming a fan favorite, he is a clear step down from Lamar Odom. Ironically, the only position we are relatively deep is the small forward position, which I akin to a box of chocolates: we never know what we're gonna get.
The depth issues has Lakers fans everywhere scrambling for other options. Below I have listed the names several players I've heard associated with the Lakers in the rumor mill over the past few days.
1) Ramon Sessions, Cle : Currently on the Cavaliers, multiple clubs have been inquiring the Cleveland front office. The addition of Session would immediately bolster the Lakers court, and decrease the wear on beloved 37-year old point guard Derek Fisher. While the move makes sense for both organizations given the emergence of Cav's 1st round pick, Kyrie Irving, given the protest by Cav's owner Dan Gilbert, who the famously vetoed Chris Paul-Lakers trade, it remains to be seen if Gilbert is in the business of helping large market organizations.
2) Aaron Brooks, FA: Brooks is a point guard Laker fans are all too familiar with. For the past couple seasons, his speed has only catalyzed demands ofor a replacement for Derek Fisher. On a thin Houston rocket team last year, Brooks put his penchant for scoring on full display, before being traded to Phoenix to play behind future hall of famer Steve Nash. He will be returning to from China soon, but unfortunately for the Lakers teams, big market teams like the Knicks and Heat will also be calling for his services.
3) Mo Williams, LAC: After landing CP3 and picking up Chauncey Billups on waivers, the Clippers suddenly found themselves with an overload of PG's. With Eric Bledsoe returning from injury, Mo Williams is all but expendable at this point. The question is whether Donald Sterling will be able to fight his instinct to shed salary in exchange for the Lakers 8.9 million trade exception by dealing the Clippers current 6th man to their Staples Center co-tenants.
4) Gilbert Arenas, FA: The artist formerly known as Agent 00 has been brought up as a possible addition to the Lakers backcourt. While Arenas has a history of being a deadly scorer, his history of being a locker room cancer is hard to overlook. However, beggars can't be choosers, and the Lakers are rumored to have contacted Arenas about a possible workout. It is not entirely clear how much Arenas has left in tank.
5) The Chinese: No, I do not mean the return of Yao Ming. With the Chinese Basketball Association season coming to an end, free agents Kenyon Martin, J.R Smith, and Wilson Chandler will be eligible to sign with teams by the middle of February. While none of these players will make the Lakers favorites to win the West, their addition certainly couldn't hurt. All 3 of these players are extremely versatile, and would give the Lakers another option at SF over the inconsistent play of Metta World Peace. J.R. Smith's shooting in particular would take the pressure off the Lakers's bench who have recently been forced to rely on rookie Andrew Goudelock for scoring. In the case of Kenyon Martin the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks have all reportedly expressed interest in the forward:
6) Rasheed Wallace, FA: Rumor has it that Rasheed Wallace wants to hang up his golf cleats and dawn the purple and gold. It has been rumored the forward contacted the Lakers about pulling a Brett Favre, and returning to the NBA.
Finally last but not least,
7) Dwight Howard, Orl: With each game the Magic lose, the further out the door Dwight Howard goes. While one has to give Howard credit for playing hard every game, the Magic are essentially reliving the circus the Denver Nuggets experienced last year with Carmelo Anthony. Had the Magic remained the dominant force they have been in the East for the past 5 years, it would have been conceivable that the Magic would have retained Howard's talents for the duration of the season. However the recent 4 game skid has Dwight Howard naming new acceptable trade destinations by the day with the Boston Celtics joining the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, and New Jersey Nets on the list of places he would like to take his talents to. While Andrew Bynum is the clearly the best consolation prize available, it remains to be seen whether a third team would be necessary to help facilitate a potential Howard trade to Los Angeles.