NBA:Why the Lakers Should Look to Cleveland, Not the NBA Draft for Their Answers

Let’s face it…if the Lakers hope to regain their championship form from the 2009 and 2010 postseasons, they must acquire players this offseason who can fill their three major needs: a quick point guard who can penetrate and create for others, an athletic wing player who can come off the bench and stretch the floor and a defensive-minded center who can spell Andrew Bynum.

Unfortunately, because the Lakers have a team salary of $92,422,877 (assuming that Shannon Brown doesn't return)—the highest in the league as of now—they are limited in free agency, and can only offer the mid-level exception, bi-annual exception or minimum salary exception to free agents. Thus, unrestricted free agents, such as Jason Richardson, Jamal Crawford, J.R. Smith, Caron Butler, Carl Landry, Glen Davis, Marc Gasol and Samuel Dalembert will likely sign elsewhere with a team that can pay them more than the mid-level exception.

So, aside from signing Jeff Foster, or a player of his caliber to the mid-level exception, which would provide Los Angeles with a great rebounder and defender off the bench, the Lakers can't do much in terms of addressing their other two needs through free agency. 

In addition to their salary cap woes, the Lakers have no first round draft picks in the upcoming 2011 NBA Draft. Although they have four second round draft picks, Los Angeles will be hard-pressed to find a player at that point in the draft who can immediately step in as the starting point guard or as a key contributor off the bench.

Thus, the Lakers will have to address their needs by making the necessary trades.

Of all the teams that the Lakers have been in discussions with this past week, Cleveland provides them with the best chance to get quality players for a cheap price. 

Here is a potential scenario:

Trade: Cleveland sends Ramon Sessions, Samardo Samuels and Christian Eyenga for Ron Artest...

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