These days, the Lakers don't really "do" trades. I mean, obviously no one's doing trades during the lockout, unless you count David Stern trading a career's worth of accumulated goodwill for the bilious loathing of his league's fanbase. What I'm saying is, since the Pau Gasol deal over three years ago, the Lakers have largely excused themselves from the NBA trade market. In 2009 there was the Shannon Brown deal and the swap of Toney Douglas's draft rights for a few million dollars of James Dolan's money, and in 2010 there was the Sasha Vujacic salary dump, but that's about it. Such is life when management considers its core talent untouchable and everyone else is too old, expensive and/or mediocre to be foisted onto another team. It doesn't mean the front office has been doing anything wrong, but it hasn't been terribly fun or satisfying for a fidgety trade junkie like myself.
That could change this offseason. Nothing cures organizational complacency like getting bulldozed in the second round of the playoffs. There are needs to fill and precious little salary cap space with which to fill them, meaning the Lakers should at least find out who's available and at what price. Today we'll look at possible point-guard acquisitions. There are plenty of PG's who theoretically could hit the market either before the season or during it. They can be sorted into four broad categories.
Category One: Superstars Looking For A Change Of Scenery
Whom it includes... Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Both can opt out of their contracts after the 2011-12 season. Both are employed by teams that are nowhere near title contention.
Why the Lakers would want someone like this... Because they're awesome at basketball, which is the sport the Lakers play. Both Williams and Paul are youngish Hall of Fame talents who could extend the Lakers' championship window into the middle of this decade and maybe beyond.
Why the Lakers wouldn't want someone like this... No reason except for what they'd have to give up.
What would the Lakers have to give up?... Andrew Bynum and more, though how much more is difficult to say.
If the deal's available, should the Lakers pull the trigger?... Maybe, though it all depends on specifics. If it's just Bynum and salary filler, you probably have to say yes. As amazing as Drew can be when he's healthy and focused, both Williams and Paul are more mature talents and better bets to stay in one piece. (Yes, even CP3.) If the cost is Bynum and Lamar Odom, it becomes much less appealing unless there's a useful front-court player also coming back in the swap. Opportunity cost is an issue as well. Bynum would be the key to any trade for Dwight Howard, so if a deal for the Orlando big man seems feasible, you need to decide whom you want more. Personally I'd prefer Dwight.
Category Two: Aging Stars And Aging "Stars"
Whom it includes... Chauncey Billups, Baron Davis, Devin Harris, Andre Miller, Steve Nash and Mo Williams.
Why the Lakers would want someone like this... To varying degrees, all of these guys have something left in the tank. Talent-wise they're clear improvements on Derek Fisher and Steve Blake. None would entail a long-term salary commitment.
Why the Lakers wouldn't want someone like this... Horrifying memories of the Gary Payton Experiment. Also, except for Nash and Miller, everyone in this category is offensively overpaid.
What would the Lakers have to give up?... In all likelihood, Nash isn't available at any price. Even if the Suns came around to the idea of trading their franchise icon, they're not about to send him to the hated Lakers absent blackmail or extravagant bribery. For everyone else, assume Odom is the cost.
If the deal's available, should the Lakers pull the trigger?... Ehhh. Putting aside the Nash fantasy, it's hard to see any of these guys being good enough to justify parting with Odom. Pass.
Category Three: Monta Ellis
Whom it includes... Monta Ellis. A Monta-for-Odom deal was being talked about a couple months back. Since then, new Golden State coach Mark Jackson has made it sound as if Ellis isn't really for sale, but the Warriors could definitely benefit from the front-court oomph Lamar would provide.
Why the Lakers would want someone like this... They need another guard who can create his own look. Monta would take some of the playmaking burden off Kobe Bryant's shoulders and supply the offense with much-needed perimeter zip.
Why the Lakers wouldn't want someone like this... If there's one thing Monta loves, it's having the ball in his hands. If there's another thing Monta loves, it's shooting. The Lakers already have someone like that. Also his defense is atrocious.
What would the Lakers have to give up?... Odom, assuming Monta's available at all.
If the deal's available, should the Lakers pull the trigger?... They'd at least have to think about it. Pairing high-usage perimeter scorers sometimes works out OK (Dwyane Wade and LeBron James) and sometimes underwhelms (Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson). I like that Monta's young (he turns 26 in November), athletic and on a fairly sensible contract (paying him $11 million annually for the next two seasons with an $11 million player option in 2013-14). How you feel about this idea depends partly on whether you think Mike Brown can get him to play some defense.
Category Four: Veteran Plug-Ins
Whom it includes... Jose Calderon, Kirk Hinrich, Ramon Sessions and Rodney Stuckey.
Why the Lakers would want someone like this... Only because their current point guards are so lacking. None of these guys will set Staples Center on fire, but each has talent and offers a marginal upgrade over Fish.
Why the Lakers wouldn't want someone like this... Calderon and Hinrich both make upwards of $8 million a year, which is more than Dr. Buss is likely willing to fork over (and in any event could make a trade difficult to execute, assuming the new collective-bargaining agreement includes salary-matching rules similar to the last one). As a combo guard with an iffy outside shot and nothing like Monta's ability to break down a defense, Stuckey doesn't offer the skill set the Lakers are looking for.
What would the Lakers have to give up?... Possibly not much. The Lakers have a trade exception left over from the Vujacic deal that could be used to acquire either Stuckey or Sessions. To sweeten the pot they could throw in some cash and a first-round draft prick, though I'd strongly prefer they not do the latter.
If the deal's available, should the Lakers pull the trigger?... Calderon and Hinrich are a no, and Stuckey probably isn't the best use of the trade exception. Sessions, though, could be a nifty low-cost solution. He can manage an offense effectively without chewing up a lot of possessions and has a deft passing touch that would make the Laker big men happy. He's certainly worth at least a phone call from Kupchak to the Cleveland front office.
Up next in our series: a look at the free-agent market.
Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.