With no ‘overwhelming’ opportunity, Lakers stand pat at trade deadline

The Lakers weren’t active in the trade market, as expected, opting to keep their roster intact as Thursday’s deadline came and went.

They stuck close to two of their principles coming into February: no trades involving their starters or sixth man Lamar Odom, and no absorbing exorbitant contracts that extend beyond this season, as per owner Jerry Buss wishes.

There were well-documented discussions with Chicago about reserve guard Kirk Hinrich, but the Bulls didn’t want to take on any salaries that count toward next season’s payroll and the Lakers wanted to send them Sasha Vujacic. Hinrich has two more years on his contract for a total of $17 million, but Vujacic has one more year at $5.5 million, which would have eased the Lakers’ cost of adding Hinrich to next season’s books.

“We had some opportunities,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. “The hardest part is getting something serious going, but obviously at the end of the day we didn’t feel anything made sense. If something was overwhelming in terms of helping our roster, we would have done it. But with the opportunities we had, we didn’t feel they were.”

The Lakers decided not to add to a payroll of $91.3 million, a tab that will cost them an additional $21.4 million in luxury taxes.

Cleveland and Dallas both made significant deals with Washington, the Cavaliers acquiring forward Antawn Jamison and the Mavericks acquiring forward Caron Butler and center Brendan Haywood.

“I think of the contending teams, they improved themselves the most,” Kupchak said. “Having said that, we’re only concerned, really, about our own health and our own play. If we should face either of team, then we’ll let it play out. But our concern is getting healthy and playing our best basketball going into the playoffs.”


Lakers Coach Phil Jackson wondered aloud why league rules would allow the Cavaliers to reacquire center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who was sent to Washington as part of the Jamison deal. But he probably will be waived by the Wizards in a month and then re-signed by Cleveland.

“I don’t know what that does for the league,” Jackson said. “I think that’s kind of a weird situation.”

Surgery for Walton?

Lakers forward Luke Walton,sidelined indefinitely for the second time this season because of a pinched nerve in his back, said surgery is “definitely an option.”

“Obviously, surgery would mean I’m done for the season,” Walton said. “I’d rather just let it calm down and start playing again in March or April, get ready for the playoffs and see if I can help the team win another championship. But one of the options is having big-time back surgery. Hopefully I won’t have to make that decision until the summertime.”

Walton is averaging 2.4 points and 8.3 minutes a game.

Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.