The Lakers are holding on to whatever they can in the Kobe Bryant/Pau Gasol tandem. Los Angeles is getting overshadowed in its own building despite a similar 12-9 records. The Lakers are starting to turn things around after a slow start to the season. Los Angeles has played more games than any other team with 21 games played.
Like most teams, the Lakers have been hit with the injury bug. Kobe Bryant is nursing and playing through his various injuries. More importantly, Steve Blake, the team’s starting point guard, is out with an injury. That has left the Lakers extremely thin at point guard.
Derek Fisher has started all 21 games this year and is clearly a step behind many of the other point guards in the league. Fisher is shooting 36.4 percent from the floor and 5.4 points per game, continuing a steady decline from recent years.
It is the depth though that has the Lakers really concerned. Blake is still on the shelf and the Lakers have relied on rookies Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock to backup Fisher for the moment. Morris and Goudelock are not natural point guards. And that lack of depth has bogged down Los Angeles.
So the Lakers are moving on and searching for even a temporary replacement. That has led them to inquire about Gilbert Arenas. Now it also has them inquiring about another shoot-first point guard — Cleveland’s Ramon Sessions.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Lakers have at least begun preliminary discussions with the Cavaliers about trading for Sessions to fill this need at point guard.
What would the Lakers be giving up? Likely it would amount to filler and the rather large trade exception the Lakers acquired from the Mavericks in the Lamar Odom deal.
And that puts the Lakers at a crossroads. While Cleveland knows it wants to send Sessions, a tweener of a point guard who is averaging 9.1 points per game, dishing out 4.1 assists per game and shooting 33.0 percent in a little more than 20 minutes per game off the bench, out for draft picks and young, cheap talent, the Lakers do not know quite what they want.
Trading away that trade exception might take Los Angeles out of the Dwight Howard running, which seems to be heating up with every crushing defeat Orlando suffers. To many of the Lakers faithful that is still the ultimate prize. Of course, the Buss family does not necessarily feel that way as the Magic’s asking price might be a bit too high and they seem a little hesitant to give up on the Andrew Bynum project.
But the Lakers do need a point guard immediately. And this is not a franchise that has ever really angled itself for free agency. It has always gotten who it wanted while remaining a championship contender. The Lakers may not be that contender anymore, even if Bryant and everyone in the front office believes that it can be.
The season is still young (well, one-third of the way done), so it is difficult to make any conclusions about the Lakers’ contending status.
One thing is clear though, Los Angeles needs a point guard to lead the way and help the team initiate its new offense. Certainly the team needs a point guard to handle the Chris Pauls, Russell Westbrooks and Derrick Roses of the world should the Lakers be serious about their championship aspirations. Quite simply, the Fisher-and-whoever-else combo is not going to work much longer. And you cannot be quite sure Steve Blake is the answer.
So the Lakers are left wondering: Deplete your assets a bit to get the point guard help you need now or go after the big fish closer to the deadline?
This is an important question that could shape whether the Lakers remain a title contender for years to come. Whoever thought a Gilbert Arenas-or-Ramon Sessions decision would have that much of an impact?