The Lakers are reportedly interested in Clippers guard Mo Williams. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
For far too long, the Lakers' breakup with Lamar Odom provided no immediate benefits.
Oh, the Purple & Gold possibly averted disaster, considering that Odom completely imploded with the Dallas Mavericks. But that didn't put the Lakers on the winning end of the deal. For one, Odom's inconsistency may not have been as drastic considering his comfort level with the Lakers. More importantly, the Lakers boasted the league's least productive bench, so anything Odom would've provided probably would've yielded a net positive. And lastly, the $8.9-million trade exception the Lakers acquired in the trade has done nothing but collect dust.
But those fortunes could change. ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported that the Clippers are interested in signing Odom from the Dallas Mavericks. But so Dallas wouldn't take back extra salary, the report states the Mavericks wants a third team involved. That's where the Lakers could come into play, reportedly showing interest in acquiring Mo Williams since that trade exception would cover his salary. Plenty of variables are at play in determining whether that's in the Lakers' best interest.
Why the Lakers should acquire Williams. There are plenty of signs that suggest Williams would seamlessly fit in with the roster. Lakers Coach Mike Brown worked with him in Cleveland, so there would be minimal hiccups in figuring out how to utilize him. The move would give the Lakers an incredible amount of flexibility. L.A. may need his presence to fill in for Ramon Sessions' possible departure. If Sessions stays, Williams would prove a superior option than Steve Blake as a backup. In turn, the Lakers perhaps could exercise the amnesty provision on Blake's two-year, $8-million contract. By doing this, the Lakers wouldn't have to ship off any players to bolster their backcourt. Lastly, the Lakers would have another expiring contract at their disposal, a huge asset leading into the trade deadline.
Why the Lakers shouldn't pursue Williams. Even if Williams spaces the floor well, it's not guaranteed he would fix the Lakers' outside shooting problems. Williams' shot selection remains inconsistent, and he's doesn't solve the Lakers' defensive backcourt woes. Ridding themselves of the trade exception right now could handicap the Lakers in trying to make a larger deal during free agency.
Verdict: Williams is certainly not worth $8.5 million as a reserve. But in the Lakers' case, it doesn't matter when they have a trade exception at their disposal. Even if spending it now handicaps them from pursuing a possible bigger deal this summer, it's probable such trades wouldn't happen anyway. Deron Williams and Dwight Howard have expressed little interest in joining the Lakers. So the Lakers might as well use it for something now.
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