With all the trade rumors swirling around this morning concerning the Lakers and the Denver Nuggets, one problem is yet to be discussed – defense. While a trade for Carmelo Anthony looks great on paper, it doesn’t solve the biggest problem the Lakers are currently dealing with. That problem is defense.
Carmelo Anthony is a great player, and a perennial All-Star. There is no doubt that he is one of the most prolific talents in the Western Conference. However, his skills are largely offensive. While he certainly has the size and bulk to be a brutal defender, he has never really capitalized on that during his time in Denver.
Now I’m not one who thinks that trading Andrew Bynum is out of the question. If the Lakers can get good value out of him I would be perfectly content with moving him. But what Andrew Bynum provides the Lakers is what no other team can match – two seven foot centers that can be difference makers on both ends of the floor. When Bynum is healthy he can turn the Lakers from a good team to a great team.
But that’s the real concern isn’t it – Bynum being healthy. He has spent more time on the bench than on the court over the past three and a half seasons, and has yet to play through an extended period of time where he remained healthy. While the Lakers really only need him for a post-season run, it would be nice to know he’s going to be ready to go once they get there.
If the Lakers do decide to make this move, which of course would require Denver’s consent as well, they can’t do it straight up. They would need another piece. This piece could come in the form of Nuggets’ center Nene, who could join Anthony in Los Angeles. Nene would provide the Lakers with a tough, physical center to replace Bynum. It would also prevent Gasol from having to carry the entire load at center.
A Bynum for Anthony trade straight up isn’t going to help the Lakers. In fact, it will cripple them. Without a replacement for Bynum the Lakers will be unable to match up with the front courts in Boston and Orlando. The biggest reason the Lakers are back to back champs is because nobody has been able to match their size and length on both ends of the court. Trading Bynum without getting an equal body in return will eliminate that advantage, and ultimately the Lakers.