With the once-mighty Los Angeles Lakers floundering just barely above the Western Conference basement, rumors of one prospective trade or another are about all that fans of the Purple and Gold have to keep them interested as the 2014-15 season slogs toward its inevitable conclusion. A conclusion that will certainly see the Lakers miss out on an NBA postseason berth for the second straight year — and just the seventh time in the history of the club.
With a 9-21 record as of December 27, Los Angeles stood just two-and-a-half games ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves at 14th place in the Western Conference. That leaves 52 games left on the schedule, which Lakers fans hope will be plenty of time to right the rapidly sinking ship.
But realistically, the team would need to win 32 of those games, losing only 20 — a winning percentage of.615, compared to their current.300 clip — just to finish at.500 with even a hope of qualifying for the Western Conference playoffs.
In other words, while the weather forecast in Los Angeles is always sunny, the forecast for the Los Angeles Lakers can be summed up in one word: bleak.
So who gets traded on or before the February 19 trading deadline? Right now, according to rumors floating around the club, the leading candidate is inconsistent, 26-year-old point guard Jeremy Lin.
Lin caused a sensation in his second NBA season, which he spent a member of the New York Knicks. Undrafted and a graduate of Harvard University, Lin set off a phenomenon that was immediately labeled “Linsanity” with his unlikely leap to sudden NBA stardom.
But his ride at the top was short lived, and since then, the 6′ 3″ Lin has performed no better than any NBA journeyman. Lin is averaging a respectable but unimpressive 10.5 points and 4.9 assists in the 2014-15 season so far.
The Miami Heat are also struggling in this year, in the wake of Lebron James’ return to Cleveland. But even though the Heat are waddling along at 14-16, they still hold the seventh overall seed in the East and maintain a realistic shot a playoff position.
Lin leads the Lakers in assists, with 138, despite playing much of the season alongside Kobe Bryant who dominates possession of the ball, taking 22.4 shots per game.
The Heat, on the other hand, rank 27th out of the 30 NBA teams in assists — making Lin a potentially desirable target.
One player who will not be departing the Lakers anytime soon is Bryant himself, despite complaints from fans that the team may actually play better without their 36-year-old superstar. But Los Angeles Coach Byron Scott dismisses those fans as “idiots,” maintaining that the Lakers “are a much better team when Kobe is on the basketball court.”