Heading into the 2012-2013 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers were expected to be extremely strong at point guard.
L.A. traded for Steve Nash in the offseason, giving the team its best point guard since Magic Johnson, or perhaps Gary Payton. The Lakers also opened the season with Steve Blake and Chris Duhon on the roster. Both are veteran backups with starter experience.
Now, a once strong backcourt has been sufficiently weakened.
Nash quickly went down for a few weeks, suffering a small fracture in his left leg in the second game of the season. He will be out for at least a week, but could miss up to a month.
The Lakers were forced to insert Blake into the starting lineup, but that move might not last very long. Could Blake be on his way out of Los Angeles?
Before Nash got injured, rumors had L.A. looking to trade either Blake or Duhon. With Nash healthy, the Lakers have a pretty crowded backcourt. After Nash and Kobe Bryant, much of the Lakers bench is made up of guards.
Alongside Blake and Duhon, Darius Morris and Jodie Meeks are on the Lakers active roster. With Blake and Duhon as the highest paid and oldest of the four, it may seem reasonable that the Lakers would look to upgrade one of the two.
According to ESPN.com, the Lakers would like to rid themselves of one of their contracts. At this point in his career, Blake is probably more valuable than Duhon. It might be hard to imagine a team willing to absorb Duhon’s two-year deal, so Blake could find himself with another team in the near future.
If Blake is the Lakers' best option with Nash sidelined, L.A. might have no choice but to keep him. With the recent play of Morris, however, that may no longer be the case.
The second-year man out of Michigan didn’t get much playing time last season, but has taken advantage of his minutes this year. He’s looked sharp in two games, hitting 50 percent of his shots. If Morris continues to impress, that might give the Lakers further incentive to trade Blake.
Blake’s recent run-in with a Laker fan won’t help his case to stay with the club, either. He was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Tuesday for cursing at the fan during a game against the Clippers.
The fan was Lance Jackson, son of Steve Jackson, who owns the shoe company LA Gear and has a very close relationship with the organization. If the Lakers didn’t have enough on-court reasons to deal Blake, the point guard just gave them another reason to part ways with the veteran.