It's not panic mode for the Los Angeles Lakers, but for a team that considers a season without an NBA title as a major disappointment, the 2011-2012 NBA season has been distressing.
The Lakers have a 10-8 record this season, and have lost four of their last five games. Kobe Bryant is the clear NBA leader in shot attempts per game, which means he has little faith in his teammates or is more concerned with winning a scoring title than winning an NBA title this season.
The question for general manager Mitch Kupchak is to decide on whether to start making trades now, wait until the Mar. 15 trade deadline, or give the current roster a chance to play and make changes at the end of the season.
Bryant wants to win immediately, and has no interest in playing with a rebuilt roster. He wants to play with players who are in their prime now, not later.
But the Lakers could use an infusion of youth. At the moment, there are nine players on the roster who are 30 years old, or older.
There are some players who Kupchak can consider dealing for, but the price might be steep.
Dwight Howard. Orlando's star center has yet to sign a contract-extension, and might be dealt at the deadline. New Jersey was thought to be a destination, but after Brook Lopez got injured, the Magic were left without another serious trade partner. The Lakers continue to be the most sensible destination. It would take Andrew Bynum, and perhaps some draft picks for the Magic to give up their best player since Shaquille O'Neal.
Deron Williams. The Nets point guard is already exhausted with New Jersey's losing ways. He is a free agent at the end of the season, and New Jersey may struggle to sign him. It's possible the Nets decide to cut their losses and deal Williams to the Lakers. Williams has been rumored to have shown interest in playing for the Lakers, and he would be a valuable backcourt mate to Bryant. Would the Lakers be willing to offer Pau Gasol for Williams, and would the Nets make that deal?
Brandon Jennings. The only way a Jennings-to-LA trade would work is if the Lakers took on the Bucks' bad contracts. The Lakers are so thin at point guard that they make take Jennings, along with Stephen Jackson and Drew Gooden, and give up Gasol and draft picks. This may not be an ideal trade for either team, but Kupchak might have to think outside the box to land a quality point guard like Jennings, who is averaging over 20 points per game.
Other players the Lakers might consider: John Wall, Lou Williams, Mo Williams, D.J. Augustin, Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison, Hedo Turkoglu, and Ersan Ilyasova.