Updated 08:06 AM EDT, Wed, Apr 23, 2014

Lakers News and Rumors: Top 5 Players the Lakers can Target for the 2014 NBA Trade Deadline (Video)

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Should the Lakers Pull the Trigger on an NBA Trade Deadline Deal with Pau Gasol?
While the Los Angeles Lakers say they will not move Pau Gasol, second from left, they could still fetch some tempting prospects for him, including All-Star Zach Randolph, second from right. (Photo : Reuters)

It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers would love to turn their fortunes around after coming off a disappointing season last year and one that has gotten off to a slow start this time around, and pulling the trigger on a deal within the NBA trade market could do the trick.

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Currently saddled with a 12-13 record for fourth place in the Pacific Division, the Lakers are waiting for the recently-returned Kobe Bryant to get back to his All-Star caliber level of play, while they mull over what to do regarding the fate of four-time All-Star Pau Gasol by the deadline.

Gasol, who helped the Lakers reach three NBA Finals and win two straight world titles in 2009 and 2010, has reportedly been disgruntled for some time regarding his role under Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni. New reports are surfacing that the Lakers have taken Gasol off the trade block for now due to his improved level of play, but with two months left before the Feb. 20 trade deadline, that could change in a heartbeat, depending on whether the Lakers can improve in the standings or how well Gasol continues to play.

With the Lakers looking to make waves this season on the NBA free agency market, a midseason trade to shed some cap space and/or infuse desperately needed new talent into the Lakers could be the booster shot needed to get the purple-and-gold squad back on track. But with a plethora of potential targets to target, and one big trading chip in Gasol to work with, the Lakers have to choose wisely. Fortunately, there are a few viable pieces that the Lakers can and should target in order to get new talent, jump start their offense, improve their defense--which the offense-oriented D’Antoni said this week that he wants to turn into one of the top 10 in the NBA--or just take on to shed salary cap space for the coming offseason shopping spree.

Omer Asik

If there were ever a fit for a defensive pickup, this guy is it. Last season, Asik was the Houston Rockets’ primary defensive player, blocking 1.1 shots per game while also averaging 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds. However, in an ironic twist of fate, his production and laying time have dropped ever since former Lakers center Dwight Howard headed down to Houston and took the lion’s share of the minutes at center. While the combination of Asik and Howard was intriguing, the seven-footer from Turkey has reportedly been wanting out, looking for a team that could give him more playing time. A straight up swap of Gasol-for-Asik could be a viable trade for both teams, the Lakers adding a young, rebounding and shot-blocking monster in the middle in Asik while the Rockets could get an experienced championship forward in Gasol to either start or help the Rockets in their reserve corps.

Danny Granger

Granger was a star on the rise for the Indiana Pacers until injuries to his left knee cut his 2012-13 season short. Since that time, Paul George has risen up to near-superstar status, making the often-injured Granger more expendable for Indiana. It’s a bit of a risk considering Granger’s knee issues—whose to say that he can recover and be the player he once was?—but pulling the trigger on a trade for Granger in exchange for Gasol and maybe a one or two players and a draft pick could work out. If Granger does become healthy again, and revitalized after a change of scenery, Kobe could have the extra superstar on offense that he needs in order for the Lakers offense to get back in motion.

Jameer Nelson

The rebuilding Orlando Magic have been looking to trade Nelson, who has been a steady source of production for the Magic at the point guard position. A steady shooter with good hands, Nelson has been averaging 13.0 points on 39.3 percent field goal shooting with 6.1 assists this season. But Orlando is looking to give college standout Victor Oladipo more time at point guard, which means Nelson could be on his way out. The Lakers do have Steve Nash, but given that the former MVP’s body has been breaking down, Nelson, 31, is a younger option and can provide a stable option for the Lakers.

Zach Randolph

It’s stunning to contemplate that Randolph, who has led the Memphis Grizzlies to the Western Conference finals twice, could be on the trading block, but the bruising All-Star power forward’s name has been surfacing in a lot of trade rumors over the last several weeks, the latest one being a scenario that would send “Zebo” to the Brooklyn Nets for Paul Pierce. If that’s a scenario that the Grizzlies are considering, perhaps the Lakers have a chance to snag the multi-talented, defensively savvy Randolph in exchange for Gasol and his expiring contract. It gives the Grizzlies a star and, if nothing else, a contract that comes off the books quickly while providing a solid No.2 option on offense behind Bryant while giving the Lakers a defensive presence and a solid rebounder.

Iman Shumpert

Word has it that the Lakers have already expressed interest in Shumpert, who has reportedly been on the trading block for weeks in New York. The defensive specialist has drawn a lot of interest ever since his rookie year, and his addition to Los Angeles could bolster their backcourt, especially in light of Bryant’s recent injury that will put him out of action for up to six weeks. Traditionally, Shumpert is more of a shooting guard, the role reserved for Bryant, but even when Bryant returns, Shumpert has been known to take up the point guard slot when necessary for the Knicks. At this point, with Bryant, Nash and guard Steve Blake all out for the Lakers, healthy bodies are at a premium for L.A.’s backcourt, and getting a talented guard like Shumpert in there would be a coup.

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