Lakers make minor move, while staying in play for big deal
The Lakers gained a power forward, lost a power forward and tried to stay in the foreground for a familiar pair of All-Stars, continuing the turnstile feeling of their franchise these days.
They continued to have discussions with Orlando about Dwight Howard and New Orleans about Chris Paul, according to a person familiar with negotiations who was not authorized to speak publicly.
It was difficult to gauge the intensity of the talks, not to mention the involved players, but nothing was imminent.
Without the recently traded Lamar Odom, the Lakers’ main trade assets are Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. They also own two first-round draft picks next year, though they are expected to be low, and a traded-player exception worth $9 million that could become a safety net for a team trying to purge a bad contract.
Almost a week after being rebuffed by the NBA for a trade involving Paul, the Lakers have quietly remained committed to try to obtain the Hornets’ point guard.
And in Orlando, the agent for Howard was given permission last week to speak to three teams about a trade — the Lakers, Dallas and New Jersey — but the Magic held out hope the franchise center could be convinced to stay.
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Monday the Lakers were “pursuing big deals right now,” but the only agreement they made Tuesday was with free-agent power forward Josh McRoberts for two years and about $6.2 million.
McRoberts might end up starting against Chicago on Dec. 25 because Odom was traded Sunday to Dallas and Gasol would slide over to center while Bynum served a five-game suspension.
McRoberts, 24, had averages of 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22.2 minutes for the Indiana Pacers last season. He started 51 of the 72 games in which he played.
The fifth-year pro was listed at 6 feet 10 and 240 pounds, and received a hefty bump from the $885,120 he made last season.
He was believed to have taken up all of the Lakers’ “mini mid-level” exception this season, which would mean the Lakers essentially don’t have any more free-agent money. In fact, they are so far over the salary cap, they can offer only veteran’s-minimum contracts such as the one-year, $1.3-million deal for Jason Kapono.
They will be without Derrick Caracter for an undetermined time because the second-year power forward sustained torn cartilage in his left knee Monday at practice. The Lakers will release a timetable for his recovery after Caracter undergoes surgery Wednesday.
Small forwards Luke Walton and Metta World Peace practiced at power forward in recent days.
Meanwhile, the fallout over the Odom trade continued.
No less an authority than Magic Johnson seemed perplexed that the Lakers gave Odom to Dallas, along with a 2012 second-round draft pick, for the Mavericks’ 2012 first-round pick and the traded-player exception.
“Kobe [Bryant] has the right to be unhappy over losing someone as valuable as [Odom],” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “He can pass, score, rebound & really loved being a Laker. For the first time, I actually don’t know what’s next for the Lakers so we all have to stay tuned. Let’s give [team executives] Mitch Kupchak & Jim Buss a chance as I know they have a plan.”
Odom wasn’t happy with the way the Lakers handled his departure, calling it a “surreal” experience in his first meeting with reporters in Dallas.
Odom was sent to the Mavericks two days after the NBA nixed a trade that would have sent Odom to New Orleans as part of a deal for Paul.
“It wasn’t about going to New Orleans,” Odom told reporters. “It was just about how [the Lakers] did it. I felt a little disrespected. After being here for so long and going through so many things, I felt like they could have just told me and I probably would have accepted it.”
A reporter for The Times broke the news to Odom that he was included in the Paul trade. It should be fun when the Lakers play host to Dallas on Jan. 16.
Lost among everything were the Lakers hitting the halfway point of training camp, pushing through Day 5 Tuesday.
Bryant sat out the morning session of two-a-days, a rarity for him so far. He almost never practiced last season but underwent a minor cutting-edge procedure on his ailing knee in June.
“He looks good,” Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. “I haven’t seen any ill effects from it.”
Despite all the moving parts, Brown has tried to maintain a routine during two-a-days this week.
“We’ve had great practices,” he said. “There’s been a lot swirling but once we’ve stepped out on the floor, really you kind of forget about all that stuff.”
Brown tries to keep an eye on everything, even interrupting a session with reporters to point out that Gasol had just knocked down six consecutive three-point attempts while shooting after practice. The number reached eight before Brown continued his train of thought.
Brown weighed in on World Peace, who gained a few pounds since the Lakers last saw him in May.
“I don’t know what his weight is, but I do know that he’s working his tail off,” Brown said. “You can see that he’s playing himself into basketball shape.”
The Lakers signed forward Gerald Green to a non-guaranteed contract. He has not played in the NBA since averaging 5.2 points with Dallas in 2008-09. ... The Lakers hired international scout Antonio Maceiras, who will be based in Barcelona, Spain.
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