The cat's out of the bag. The Lakers need a point guard now if they want to make a strong push in the playoffs, which, judging by the way they are playing as of late, they are a lock for in an extremely competitive Western Conference.
However, the Lakers have exceeded their cap room and luxury tax threshold, which seem like one of the prime obstacles that have hindered them from making a move thus far. Plus, they don't seem like they want to give up either of their big men in Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum unless they are guaranteed an elite level point guard, only one of which is on the list of potential future Lakers point guards below.
The key for a feasible trade for the Lakers then seems to lie in the $8.9 million trade exception they acquired after they traded Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks in December. Without it, they would barely have any wiggle room to work with and would most likely have to desperately give up more than they want to for the point guard they seek.
Now that Odom's exit has opened the door for them, the Lakers have options to explore. Here are some of the names that have piqued their interest as the March 15 trade deadline approaches.
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Arenas (C) between Orlando Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu (L) and center Dwight Howard (R). (Reuters/Kevin Kolczynski)
The 30-year-old guard, who was amnestied by the Magic in mid-December and worked out for the Lakers on Feb. 29 in Los Angeles, might be the most inexpensive option among the point guards in this list.
However, despite having been a scoring threat before his time in Orlando with the Washington Wizards, Arenas averaged a career-low in points (8.0) and assists (3.2) in just 49 games for Orlando last season, which may be the red flag that prevents him from putting on purple and gold.
Photo: Reuters/Mike Cassese
The Lakers are among some teams that have inquired about Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Calderon, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, but Calderon's expiring $9.8 million salary is too big to fit into the $8.9 million Odom exception. And, Toronto isn't willing to take any salary back either.
If anything were to happen, though, it would leave the Lakers, who are already $17 million over the luxury tax threshold, dealing with heavier tax consequences. And, if Calderon doesn't end up playing well for the rest of the season, then the Lakers wouldn't be obligated to re-sign him.
Calderon, 30, is averaging 10.6 points and 8.6 assists per game this season, also shooting 37 percent from behind the arc.
Felton (R) drives against Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. (Reuters/Steve Dipaola)
The Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers have had exploratory talks regarding 27-year-old Blazers point guard Raymond Felton, according to a league source who spoke with Comcast SportsNet Northwest.
The source said that while the talks have been ongoing for weeks, terms of a potential deal haven't got off the ground and are still being considered by both sides.
This season, Felton, whose contract like Calderon's expires at the end of the season, hasn't seemed to fit in coach Nate McMillan's defensive-oriented plans. He is averaging a career-low in points per game (9.7), field goal percentage (.368), three-point percentage (.246), and rebounds (2.1). Nevertheless, despite being removed from the starting lineup on Feb. 21, Felton is still averaging 6.1 assists per game.
Similar to Calderon's case, the Lakers could also possibly want the Blazers to take back some of the Felton's $7.5 million salary for the aforementioned luxury tax purposes. He would also be someone who probably wouldn't be brought back on board if he didn't perform well.
Hinrich (top) defends Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson. (Reuters/Tami Chappell)
Yes, the Atlanta Hawks point guard Kirk Hinrich is averaging 5.2 points and 2.5 assists off the bench and he's 31 years old, which might signal him being the worst option in this list. However, he could still nonetheless end up in Los Angeles if the Lakers can't get anyone better as per Stein from ESPN.com.
Luckily, Hinrich's too-high, expiring $8.1 million salary can be absorbed in the $8.9 million Odom trade exception. Yet, his contract is another case that no matter how much of it is split between Atlanta and Los Angeles, the Lakers are the ones who still have to face the brunt of the tax force.
With all that said, Hinrich would at least give the Lakers some sort of an upgrade in the backcourt going into the postseason. But again: sub-par play would mean no re-signing.
Sessions, who is talented but expendable with the arrival of Rookie of the Year frontrunner Kyrie Irving, is on the books for $4.2 million this season and has a $4.5 million player option for next season. He probably won't exercise that option, though, knowing that his value has risen a bit and he could test free agency to go to a better team. And that's precisely the reason why Cleveland may want to try to trade him before the deadline, instead of running the risk of losing him for nothing.
Sessions is averaging 10.5 points and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 43 percent from three-point land.
Rondo (R) drives against Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Knight. (Reuters/Brian Snyder)
Rondo's name has been the one in this list swirling the most in the rumor mill. First, it was Rondo to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Russell Westbrook. Then, in December, team president Danny Ainge acknowledged Rondo was part of a nixed deal to attempt to acquire Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets. Now, he has been thought to be shipped to Los Angeles. However, according to the Boston Globe, management has assured him that he's not going anywhere.
Ironically, while Rondo would be the best option for the Lakers, he now looks like the least likely candidate to be traded to them.