The Los Angeles Lakers confirmed on Wednesday what many insiders had known for several months: the club doesn't want to spend money.
How else could one explain the team's refusal of a sweetheart deal to acquire Michael Beasley from Minnesota for only a first round pick?
Long-time owner Jerry Buss is not willing to continue spending so freely above the luxury tax, according to ESPN sources. The Lakers had earlier traded Lamar Odom before the season in an effort to basically cut costs, and they don't want to accept a very good replacement for Beasley by paying for it.
By taking on Beasley's $6.2 million contract, the Lakers would have to pay a total of $12.4 million, due to the luxury tax. It has to be hard on general manager Mitch Kupchak, who desperately wants to strengthen the squad for a trip to the Finals, but can't seem to find a player to improve the team without having to increase the payroll.
Meanwhile, the big fish is still out there, and the Lakers may not be able to acquire him.
According to Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated, Dwight Howard might be souring on a move to the Lakers. Howard's close friends say that Kobe Bryant told Howard that he sees him as a second or third option on a title contending club with the Lakers.
Regardless of whether that is the case, the Buss family want Howard and are bothered by Bryant's meddling in the situation. Obviously, there is some butting heads between Bryant and Jim Buss, Jerry's son, who is the executive of the team.
Magic Johnson recently stated that Jim Buss and Bryant need to sit down and chat. There had already been a lack of communication with Bryant and upper-management in recent months when the Lakers decided to hire head coach Mike Brown without consulting with their star player.
But the Howard situation may start to get more interesting in the next two weeks as the trade deadline approaches. The Magic may have no other choice but to trade their superstar center or risk losing him to free agency at the end of the season.
The Magic don't have many quality trade offers beyond the Lakers, as Andrew Bynum would be a comfortable swap of center for center. The Lakers would likely have to add draft picks, which the club would gladly do, as they would prefer to avoid paying for a rookie with a late first-round pick when they can easily take a second-round pick or a rookie free agent and pay a fraction of the cost.
The Lakers are still in need of an upgrade at point guard, and appear to be interested in Kirk Hinrich. Los Angeles could acquire Hinrich by sending rookie Darius Morris and a first-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks, according to John Carrol of ESPN.
Hinrich is known for his quality shooting and decision-making, and is averaging 4.9 points and 2.6 assists per game this season. The former Kansas star averaged 11.1 points per game last season.
The Laker may still be in the running for Devin Harris. The Jazz are reportedly willing to part with their back-up point guard, and the Lakers are certainly in the hunt for a playmaker. Harris is averaging 9.3 points per game this season.
Meanwhile, the Lakers have yet to make their signing of Rasheed Wallace official.
No matter what deals the Lakers make, the club will have to show a commitment to winning a title this season, or risk alienating Bryant. The future Hall of Famer has no interest in being part of a rebuilding effort, and wants to contend for a championship now.
With the trade deadline on Mar. 15, it could be a busy couple of weeks for the Lakers.