NBA Saturday: Lakers Continue Point Guard Search
It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers want to acquire a point guard at some point in the next two weeks. Prior to the NBA’s trade deadline on March 15, the Lakers hope to upgrade over their current rotation of Derek Fisher, Steve Blake and Darius Morris.
Many different names have surfaced as the Lakers search for a starting-caliber floor general. Los Angeles has swung and missed while pursuing elite point guards such as Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry and Deron Williams, and they’ve turned their attention to more obtainable options.
The Lakers have expressed significant interest in Ramon Sessions, who will likely be traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers. After this season, Sessions has a $4,551,626 player option that he likely won’t exercise, which is why Cleveland wants to deal him now before losing him for nothing. This season, Sessions has emerged as a significant contributor behind Kyrie Irving, averaging 10.5 points and 5.4 assists off the bench for Cleveland. In four games as a starter, Sessions has averaged 17.8 points and 11 assists.
Los Angeles has also been pursuing Kirk Hinrich in recent weeks. The Lakers have been linked to Hinrich in the past and the Atlanta Hawks would move the veteran point guard if the right deal came along. The two teams have had conversations in recent weeks. Hinrich missed the first month of the season after recovering from shoulder surgery, but has been effective since returning. He’s currently backing up Jeff Teague and while his numbers don’t jump off the page, he does a good job managing Atlanta’s offense and he’s still a stellar perimeter defender. This season, Hinrich is averaging 4.9 points and 2.6 assists.
The Lakers have also been linked to Raymond Felton, who was recently benched by the Portland Trail Blazers in favor of Jamal Crawford. Felton is currently playing the worst basketball of his career, but the 27-year-old may just need a change of scenery. Los Angeles has made their interest in Felton known and will continue to monitor his situation as the trade deadline approaches. This season, Felton is averaging 9.9 points and 6.1 assists.
Over the next two weeks, the Lakers may explore several other options. Around the league, there are a number of quality point guards who could be had for the right price including Jose Calderon, Jarrett Jack, Goran Dragic, Jonny Flynn and A.J. Price.
If Los Angeles can’t find a trade partner, there are also a number of free agent point guards still available. Gilbert Arenas worked out for the Lakers and has been mentioned the most, but there are also veterans such as Mike James, Earl Boykins and Luther Head.
While acquiring a small forward – such as Michael Beasley – may help the Lakers, their priority seems to be adding a point guard. They have many options around the league and will continue to work the phones over the next two weeks.
Chandler, Nuggets Continue Negotiations: Wilson Chandler is currently a restricted free agent, but he doesn’t have many options. The small forward can either re-sign with the Denver Nuggets or sit out the remainder of the 2011-12 season and become a restricted free agent again in July.
March 1 was the deadline for Chandler to sign an offer sheet with another team, but teams didn’t have much money to spend midseason and were scared off knowing Denver would match their offer. The Toronto Raptors were among the teams to express interest in Chandler and they even considered trading Leandro Barbosa to free up the cap room necessary to sign Chandler. However, the calendar was working against them and they couldn’t put together a satisfactory offer in time.
Now, Chandler continues to negotiate with the Nuggets. He wants a one-year deal, which would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. However, Denver has no interest in giving up their ability to match any offer sheet that Chandler signs and would rather ink a long-term deal now. But because they’re the only NBA team that can sign Chandler, the Nuggets are trying to sign Chandler at a discounted rate. Chris Luchey, Chandler’s agent, said that he’s still “awaiting their true offer.”
If Chandler and the Nuggets cannot agree on a number, don’t be surprised if the 24-year-old sits out the remainder of the season. He would either work out on his own or sign overseas with a team in Italy. By sitting out the season, Chandler would be able to test restricted free agency in July, when more teams have money to spend and when he can force the Nuggets’ hand with a large offer sheet.
Once Aaron Brooks comes home from his stint in China, he’ll face a similar situation. Brooks is a restricted free agent and the Phoenix Suns hold his rights. He won’t be able to sign an offer sheet with another team so he’ll have to decide if he wants to sign a long-term deal with Phoenix or sit out for the remainder of the season. With Steve Nash, Sebastian Telfair and Ronnie Price, the Suns aren’t exactly in need of a pricey point guard, which could make Brooks’ return just as interest as Chandler’s.
Luchey remains optimistic that the two sides will work out a deal. They met in Orlando during the All-Star break and will continue negotiations throughout the course of the season.
Rondo Dealing With Trade Rumors: Rajon Rondo has kept the rumor mill churning as the NBA’s trade deadline approaches. He has been mentioned in several trade scenarios and numerous reports have said that he’s available. The Boston Celtics tried to trade him for Chris Paul over the offseason and now they’ve explored several potential deals in recent months.
However, Rondo has been assured by management that he’s not going anywhere and that has helped him ignore the rumors.
“I’m doing all right,’’ Rondo told The Boston Globe. “Like they say, it’s part of the business. I’m happy just playing basketball. I’m happy with the guys they have surrounded me with, the coaching staff. Other than that, when I’m on the court I’m just focused on winning and just having fun while I’m doing it.’’
There were several reports that indicated Rondo’s departure would be because of his poor relationship with head coach Doc Rivers. However, Rivers denied that claim in a statement and Rondo explained that their relationship has grown over time.
“It’s good to hear [positive words] come from the head coach, but some great opportunity might come out and [a trade] may happen, but you never know,’’ Rondo said. “Obviously, that was big of Doc to come out with that statement. That meant a lot to me, but I know the relationship we have. It’s gotten better each year. Like he said, it’s gotten stronger each year and this is the best that it’s been.’’
The Celtics are weighing all of their options as the trade deadline approaches. Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett have all been mentioned in one trade rumor or another. That’s what happens when a veteran team sits just one game over .500 in March.
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