Magic center Dwight Howard, driving against Knicks center Tyson Chandler… (Frank Franklin II / Associated…)
The Lakers cleaned out their lockers after another early playoff ricochet, but I'm still working.
My editor wanted five moves that would help the Lakers, wouldn't be ridiculed by opposing general managers and would be allowed under the NBA's complicated transaction guidelines.
Keep in mind that the Lakers have extremely limited purchasing power for free agents and are an old team with a bloated payroll. Put it this way: Nobody is calling General Manager Mitch Kupchak at 3 a.m., begging him to part with Metta World Peace for two first-rounders.
Without further delay…
1) Send a future second-round pick and the $8.9-million traded-player exception (from the Lamar Odom deal) to Denver for forward Al Harrington
The Nuggets face some tough decisions. Not on the court, where they took the Lakers to seven games in the first round, but financially.
They might have to open the bank vault to sign young center JaVale McGee to an extension this summer and will definitely do it in bigger style next summer with rising point guard Ty Lawson. If they're looking to shed some money, the Lakers could help.
Harrington makes $21.4 million over the next three seasons, pretty steep for a 32-year-old in a league with an average salary of $5.3 million.
But Harrington averaged 14.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 27.5 minutes in the regular season. He could be the scoring punch the Lakers desperately needed on their bench.
2) Send Andrew Bynum and a future first-round draft pick to Orlando for Dwight Howard
Here we go again.
Pau Gasol's the 7-footer the Lakers want to trade, but let's face it: His value dropped steeply the last six months. And let's end all the Gasol-for-Deron Williams talk right now. The Nets aren't that silly …are they?
Anyway, Bynum for Howard helps two teams put completely different looks in their frontcourt without a steep drop-off either way.
Orlando's taking the bigger gamble because Bynum's a one-time All-Star and Howard's a gazillion-time All-Star, so the Magic gets a first-round pick as well.
There's also the question of whose body parts are the bigger risk — Bynum's knees or Howard's back?
3) Sign free-agent point guard Raymond Felton to a "mini" midlevel contract
Leap-of-faith warning: Felton made $7.6 million last season with Portland. I'm proposing he signs with the Lakers for $3 million, the most they can spend on a free agent because they're so far over the luxury-tax threshold.
I'm sure Felton hates this idea. So does his agent.
But the Trail Blazers weren't exactly in love with him this season. He averaged a career-low 11.4 points and briefly lost his starting job. In fact, 91% of readers who answered an online poll in the Oregonian said Felton should leave Portland.
The Lakers need a shooter, which Felton is not: He shot 35% in January and 38% in February before being yanked from the starting lineup for four games. But Felton needs a year of on-court stat rehab and is a more proven player than Ramon Sessions and more dynamic than Steve Blake.
4) Send a future second-round pick and the $8.9-million traded-player exception to Milwaukee for point guard Beno Udrih
Nothing spectacular here. In fact, Udrih was decidedly unspectacular this season in Milwaukee, averaging 5.9 points and 3.8 assists as Brandon Jennings' backup.
Hey, no one said rebuilding the Lakers would be easy.
But Udrih is good insurance if Sessions leaves the Lakers via free agency.
Udrih averaged 13.7 points and 4.9 assists in 2010-11 for Sacramento. He will surely exercise a player option for $7.4 million next season and the Bucks have no use for him after adding Monta Ellis before the trade deadline to a backcourt that already had Jennings.
If Udrih doesn't work for the Lakers after one season, fine, both sides walk away unharmed.
5) Send a future second-round pick and the $8.9-million traded player exception to New Orleans for forward Trevor Ariza; sign Odom for the veteran's minimum of about $1.4 million
OK, so it's two completely different moves, but let's keep the Lakers' reunion tour in the frontcourt.
The Lakers won a championship after losing Ariza, but haven't they always missed his fluid form on the floor? This is how to get him back with little cost beyond absorbing his contract the next two years ($15 million total). The Hornets might go for it because they're in cash-saving mode.
As for Odom … wow, his season was actually rougher than anything the Lakers experienced. He was deactivated by Dallas last month and wasn't voted a playoff share by his teammates. He'll almost surely be bought out by the Mavericks for $2.4 million next month.
Some teams will offer Odom a little more than $1.4 million, but he has a lot to prove. Why not do it for the Lakers, who owe him a second chance after dumping him the way they did?
Odom and Ariza, back on the Lakers. Who's next, Smush Parker?