Pau Gasol is out until March and with Dwight Howard's shoulder still barking, the Los Angeles Lakers are in a position where a trade for another frontcourt body could be beneficial. That move could work, but only if GM Mitch Kupchak doesn't want his star-studded team to make the playoffs.
Steve Kyler of Hoopsworld presented the idea of the Lakers filling the void left by Gasol via a trade or free agency, but neither option seems likely. The Lakers are strapped for cap space, and adding another post player would require either resorting to the bare-bones minimum on the waiver wire or getting creative in putting a trade together.
In reality, the avenue that the Lakers should pursue is simple: do nothing. Gasol is injured, but he is expected back this season. Bringing anyone aboard in his absence would cause chaos, particularly since any replacement, for lack of better word, is not as familiar with head coach Mike D'Antoni's system as Gasol is.
More importantly, what if this new player performs well, and then Gasol comes back fully healthy? That's a coaching nightmare I wouldn't wish on anyone.
However, we are forgetting the most important reason as to why the Lakers should do nothing. In case anyone hasn't been keeping track, the team had won three in a row and six of its last seven, and the last three wins came without Dwight Howard in the lineup, until losing to Boston on Thursday night.
Granted, Gasol was there to fill in at the 5 during the current three-game winning streak, but just look at how different a team the Lakers have become during their recent positive stretch. Kobe Bryant has gone from being a pure scorer to a full-on playmaker, averaging 8.1 assists over his last eight games compared to 18.6 points.
Steve Nash has also gone into combo-guard mode, posting 13.6 points, 5.5 assists and shooting 50 percent from long range. The entire team has bought into D'Antoni's run-and-gun offense and is putting forth a collective effort night after night instead of just asking Bryant to go into Mamba Mode from the get-go.
The fact is that no matter what path Kupchak decides to take, the Lakers are going to have to fight and claw their way into the playoffs, and the loss of Gasol means they'll have to do that even harder than usual. However, if Kupchak leaves well enough alone with the roster and lets the players try and get over the hump with their new team-first attack, then Los Angeles could provide the fans with plenty of surprises over the next four to six weeks.
Surprises often turn into momentum, and plenty of that could be enough to send the Lakers to the postseason.