Pau Gasol's name has been linked to trade rumors since the labor agreement ended, and the Lakers have about three weeks until the trade deadline to decide whether they want to keep their star power forward.
With Kobe Bryant untouchable, and executive Jim Buss clinging to Andrew Bynum, the Lakers have little major trade bait beyond Gasol.
The 31-year-old power forward is having a solid season, though his numbers are down a bit. Gasol still plays 37 minutes a night, and is averaging 16.8 points per game, but the Lakers might want to upgrade the point guard position, or at least find a younger frontcourt player.
There have been several rumors lately, and musings by sports reporters.
New York Post columnist Peter Vecsey dropped a potential bombshell: Gasol for Carmelo Anthony.
A straight-up swap for the two high-profile players would work from a salary standpoint. Gasol has three years remaining on his deal, while Anthony has four. Vecsey noted that the Knicks could get bigger considering Amare Stoudemire's numbers are down. Meanwhile, Tyson Chandler isn't exactly a scoring machine.
The bigger question would be whether there would be two basketballs on the court for Bryant and Anthony to get the amount of shots they're used to. Bryant leads the league in average shot attempts a game (23.7) and Anthony is fifth (18.4).
The likelihood of Anthony, 27, going to the Lakers is slim. He hasn't been with New York very long, and is still beloved in the Big Apple despite being recently over-shadowed in popularity by Jeremy Lin. The Knicks frontcourt would lack perimeter scoring with Anthony gone, and there would be too much traffic in the low post with Gasol on the floor.
Another trade rumor had Gasol going to the Bulls for Carlos Boozer and C.J. Watson. Derrick Rose immediately denied that he pushed for the trade.
I heard about it after (Monday's) game, Rose said, according to ESPN. That's something I wouldn't say to anyone, that I need someone to come to this team or I'm trying to get rid of someone on this team. It was all false and that's something I would never do.
The Bulls will probably avoid a major trade, though Gasol would be an added boost to a club that really isn't all that big. Gasol playing next to Joakim Noah would be a solid combination, and it would relieve the Bulls from having to find a backup center as Gasol and Noah wouldn't have to be on the court at the same time in many situations.
The Lakers wouldn't be getting much younger by adding 30-year-old Boozer, but Watson would be a step in the right direction, as the point guard is having a solid season and is in his prime.
Gasol for Derrick Williams and two draft picks is another deal that has circled around. Before the season started, many considered Williams to be the frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award. However, Williams is averaging just 7.3 points per game on Minnesota Timberwolves squad that hovers around .500.
For the deal to work from a salary standpoint, the Wolves would have to include other players. Nikola Pekovic, who is averaging 12.5 points per game, and point guard Luke Ridnour would likely be involved, with perhaps Malcolm Lee and the draft picks being thrown in.
The reason this deal will probably not happen is that the Lakers want to win now, not next season. Bryant will fume if the Lakers look to rebuild with a player like Williams, who is still unproven. The deal would probably be a no-brainer for Minnesota.
Michael Beasley has also been linked to the Lakers. The 23-year-old forward has had his troubles in recent seasons, but is having a good season. He will be a free agent in the off-season, but that is no use to the Lakers for the 2011-2012 season.
According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, the Lakers could also acquire Beasley with their $8.9 million trade exception that they received from Dallas in the Lamar Odom trade, and also have to give up a draft pick or cash. In other words, there's a potential huge trade involving the Lakers and Minnesota if Beasley is included in a deal with Williams, and others.
That doesn't change the fact that the Lakers could use a top-notch point guard, and they're not going to get it from the Wolves, who won't part with Ricky Rubio.
Though Gasol has his suitors, it will take a lot for the Lakers to get what they want in return: to be younger, to upgrade point guard, and to improve their chances of a title run this season.