When it comes to trades, the options are few for Lakers
The Lakers want to make trades but are a little short on available, desirable players.
They have an aging roster tied down by cumbersome salaries and have already traded their only expiring contract of value — Sasha Vujacic’s $5.5 million — in a December salary dump that cost them this year’s first-round draft pick.
They’re fading quickly in the race for the best record in the Western Conference, and there’s increased concern in the upper reaches of the organization that they might not get back to the NBA Finals, but there isn’t much room to maneuver because 10 of their 14 players are 30 or older and the franchise is already burdened by the league’s highest payroll ($90 million).
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, however, said Tuesday that the “door’s open for business” before the Feb. 24 trade deadline, a follow-up to similar comments from General Manager Mitch Kupchak on Monday.
Jackson added that “it was a good calling card that Mitch threw out there,” but who could the Lakers realistically trade?
Ron Artest is struggling and his trade value is low, considering he is 31 years old and has three more years after this for a total of $21.8 million. Luke Walton, who turns 31 next month, has two more years and $11.5 million. Oft-injured center Andrew Bynum has two more years and $31 million, though the second year is a team option for $16.1 million.
Lamar Odom, 31, has two more years and $17.1 million left on his contract. He has been the team’s most consistent player this season. Kobe Bryant, 32, has three more years and $83.5 million but isn’t going anywhere. Pau Gasol, 30, has three more years and $57 million but is unlikely to be dealt.
Derek Fisher, 36, has two more years at a total of $6.8 million. Matt Barnes and Shannon Brown each make about $2 million, well below the NBA average of $5.8 million.
Jackson didn’t necessarily envision making a trade, and certainly not a roster purge akin to Orlando’s two months ago.
“We’re obviously not happy with the way we’ve played recently but ... the reality is we have a team that’s pretty experienced and knows how to play in the playoffs, so I doubt if we do a multiple-[player] change,” Jackson said.
One thing looks certain: the Lakers have “zero” chance of obtaining Denver Nuggets All-Star Carmelo Anthony, according to a person familiar with the Lakers’ thinking who declined to elaborate.
The Lakers and Jackson have always coveted guard Kirk Hinrich, who is averaging 10.9 points and 4.5 assists for the Washington Wizards. Hinrich, 30, makes $9 million this season and $8 million next season.
Veteran sharp-shooter Richard Hamilton is barely playing as the Detroit Pistons head toward a youth movement, but he is making a hefty $12.6 million next season.
The Lakers have a $5-million trade exception thanks to the Vujacic deal, which saved them about $8 million in salary and luxury taxes, but they would use the potentially helpful exception only if they found a willing partner in a deal that made sense.
Whatever happens, even the Lakers’ legends are worried.
Magic Johnson wasn’t sure which NFL team he wanted to come to Los Angeles when he spoke Tuesday to The Times, but he knew all about the struggles of his former basketball team.
He said he didn’t like the Lakers’ 1-4 record against teams with better records.
“I think the Lakers are in trouble,” said Johnson, a Lakers’ vice president. “I want to see more from them. I’m excited to see them Thursday.”
That would be against the San Antonio Spurs (40-8) at Staples Center.
Despite saying the Lakers would field trade offers, Jackson seemed confident with the current roster.
“I’m still prepared in any series to take this team against anybody,” he said.
Times staff writer T.J. Simers contributed to this report.
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