Lakers Rumors: LA's Lack of Interest in Raja Bell Good for Team Chemistry

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIMarch 2, 2013

Raja Bell would have been reunited with former head coach Mike D'Antoni in LA.
Raja Bell would have been reunited with former head coach Mike D'Antoni in LA.Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

As much turmoil as the Los Angeles Lakers have endured this season, bringing in another player in an effort to upgrade the roster was likely to further complicate matters. That's why the rumored lack of interest in veteran shooting guard Raja Bell was a positive development for the team's chemistry.

ESPN's Marc Stein indicated that the Lakers were not a likely destination for Bell despite being an ideal fit and speculated in weeks prior to be his prospective landing spot.

This makes sense, because the Lakers already have heavy financial commitments to stars Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and the injured Pau Gasol. It's also unclear as to what Bell would bring to the table in the first place.

The 36-year-old, who was getting paid $3.48 million while not playing, was unable to negotiate a contract buyout with the Utah Jazz before the 11:59 p.m. March 1 deadline. Bell has been working out in Florida during the regular season, having not made an appearance for Utah all year.

That certainly didn't make things easy during the process. Senior vice president Kevin O'Connor indicated that the Jazz made a minimum offer from the start but that Bell didn't take it (h/t Salt Lake Tribune).

As points out, LA or any other suitor would have had to make up the difference in salary that Bell would have lost in the buyout. As Stein foresaw, the Lakers ultimately didn't follow through.

With his combination of age and lack of time on an NBA court this season, it's hard to fathom that Bell could have stepped in right away and been an instant impact player off the bench.

The Lake Show has won four out of five contests since the All-Star break and is 12-4 in its past 16 games. LA has finally settled into a consistent starting five, albeit without the services of Gasol, who has been a cornerstone for the Lakers for years.

Head coach Mark D'Antoni's offense is finally clicking with the current rotation in recent games. Even though Bell knows the concepts well having played for D'Antoni with the Phoenix Suns, it was highly questionable as to whether he is even close to the player he was then.

Bell had the best years of his career in Phoenix and has never shot three-pointers at a 40 percent clip since those days, which ended after three-and-a-half seasons in 2008-09.

Of course, Nash was part of those Suns teams, and D'Antoni's offense allowed him to win two NBA Most Valuable Player awards. So there is some innate compatibility between D'Antoni, Nash and Bell.

But adding another piece to the enigmatic jigsaw puzzle that is the Lakers would not have been the wisest move—even for someone who had a chance to gel as well as Bell. D'Antoni's current squad is finally turning the corner and getting more prominently into the playoff mix.

While it is possible that Bell could have helped, the risk that he would have brought in taking minutes from current contributors and throwing off the winning dynamic was not worth the short-term investment.

As Mitch Kupchak hinted at just days ago (h/t CBS Sports), the Lakers have frequently been impatient this season with a far too fervent "win-now" mentality.

The non-interest in Bell and any other players maintains much-needed stability in the Lakers' lineup. And who knows—it's at least feasible that it could culminate in a title run in the immediate future after all.