The NBA trade deadline passed relatively quietly today for the Los Angeles Lakers. Many expected Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill, or Pau Gasol to join Steve Blake as former Lakers players, but to no avail. Ramona Shelburne was up to date on the latest as the deadline approached, and it seemed like interest in Kaman and Hill surged from teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, but each team went in a different direction (Brooklyn currently interested in Jason Collins and Philly picked up Danny Granger). With the acquisitions of Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks from yesterday's deal with the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers head (or stumble) towards the end of a tumultuous season.
Mitch Kupchak sat down with the media shortly after the deadline today to give some insight as to the direction of the Los Angeles Lakers from this point moving forward. He acknowledged the difficulties of trade deadlines in today's NBA with the new CBA, but made it an emphasis that the Lakers have a plan.
"We have a plan. I can't guarantee you can execute a plan in six months, 12 months...but we're well positioned". He added that "it may take more than one year to build...Because we have a lot of cap space this summer, it doesn't mean we'll spend it all".
When I hear that from Kupchak, I do feel a sense that he is confident and really does have a gameplan in play (let's hope Jim Buss is on the same page right?); but at the same time, there is a feeling of the unknown in those words, which is expected because you obviously can't predict what players will be available, or who would even want to come to LA at this point. The fact of the matter remains the same, however. Kobe Bryant is locked in for another two years, and besides Nash's contract, it is wide open from there. We know that the Lakers are looking to reload extremely quickly, given Bryant's timetable. The last 28 games of the season will be spent in evaluation of the young talent the Lakers have, in order to start building some pieces for next season. If they were able to bring back some core guys from the group now (Jordan Farmar, Nick Young, Kendall Marshall, etc.) that would be a nice starting point. The max free agent that Lakers fans are counting on is most likely not coming this offseason. Summer of 2015 looks much more promising with the likes of Kevin Love, Roy Hibbert, LaMarcus Aldridge, etc. More realistically, the 2014-2015 Lakers will consist of the core guys from this season (including Bryant), a lottery pick, and a few newcomers from the free agent market. There are rumors of Eric Bledsoe and Lance Stephenson being on the radar, but they will likely see nice, big paychecks coming their way, which may take the Lakers out of the running if they want the big name in 2015.
There are a few more questions that remain unanswered (and probably will stay that way for the next few months):
Where does Gasol fit in all this?
Health of Kobe Bryant? (Ok and Steve Nash?)
Is Mike D'Antoni's job secure?
It remains to be seen what will happen in LakerLand in the coming months. One thing is for certain, however: it is always quiet before the storm.