Lakers Monitoring Raja Bell Situation
The Los Angeles Lakers may not make a blockbuster trade before tomorrow’s deadline, but they are keeping an eye on several role players around the league. One such player is Raja Bell of the Utah Jazz.
Bell is under contract with the Jazz, but he hasn’t been with the team all season. Over the offseason, Bell was highly critical of Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin, which upset many people within the organization. Prior to training camp, Bell was told to stay away from the team. The two sides tried to negotiate a buyout earlier in the season, but could not reach an agreement.
The Lakers are monitoring the Bell situation because they believe he could be a significant contributor in L.A. Bell would provide perimeter defense, toughness and experience. Last season, the 36-year-old started 33 games and averaged 6.4 points for the Jazz.
Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni is very familiar with Bell since he coached him for three years on the Phoenix Suns. Bell also has a good relationship with Lakers point guard Steve Nash, since they started alongside each other in Phoenix. Sources close to the situation say that Kobe Bryant has also pushed for the Lakers to acquire Bell. Even though Bryant and Bell have had their differences (and clotheslines) in the past, sources say Bryant respects Bell and sees that he can help the team.
Bell is currently working out in Fort Lauderdale and he has made it clear that he wants to play this season. Sources close to Bell say that he would love for the Lakers to acquire him.
Bell’s 2013-14 salary is $3,480,000, which makes a trade difficult. However, Utah has already paid most of his salary for this year. With 56 days left in the season, Bell will be paid $1,082,000 for the remainder of the season. If he’s willing to leave a large portion of that on the table and agree to a buyout, he could sign with the Lakers and make most of that back. However, the Jazz would have to agree to that and they aren’t going to do anything unless it benefits them as well. The last thing the Jazz want to do is help the Lakers, especially since they’ll be fighting for the final seeds in the West down the stretch.
A buyout seems to be the most likely way for Bell to end up in Los Angeles, but nothing is imminent at this point. With that said, if the Lakers aren’t able to add Bell this season, it won’t be for lack of trying.
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