LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Lakers are aggressively pursuing trades - and their main target reportedly is Kevin Garnett in what would be a clear attempt to placate a disgruntled Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers' proposal, according to the Los Angeles Times, includes forward Lamar Odom and center Andrew Bynum. But that might not be enough to acquire the 31-year-old Garnett, one of the NBA's most talented and versatile big men.
Fact is, considering the Lakers are all the way down at No. 19 in the first round of Thursday's draft, they might not have what it takes to acquire the 10-time All-Star. Garnett averaged 22.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.7 blocked shots for a team that went 32-50 last season.
Lakers spokesman John Black declined comment Tuesday, and Timberwolves general manager Kevin McHale has done the same through team spokesman Mike Cristaldi.
"We felt the team underachieved last year," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said last week. "We could stick with the group as it is today, or we can look to be aggressive and try to get to that next level. Either way, we think we'll be a talented team next year."
Bryant, the NBA's leading scorer the past two seasons, complained about a lack of talent around him at season's end, and later said he wanted to be traded, adding nothing could change his mind.
Despite that request, the Lakers have made clear that trading Bryant isn't in their plans. Bryant is owned $88.6 million over the next four seasons, but could terminate his contract in two years.
Garnett is under contract for two more years at $22 million next season and $23 million the following year, but he could opt out next summer - a development that could spur the Timberwolves to action.
It was first reported the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics were involved in four-team negotiations with the Lakers and Timberwolves, but those talks broke down, leaving Los Angeles and Minnesota alone in the discussions.
The 27-year-old Odom will earn $13.5 million next season and $14.6 million in 2008-09 - the final year of his contract. The 19-year-old Bynum, taken with the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft, is due $2.2 million next season.
Lakers center Kwame Brown, owed $9.1 next season in the final year of his contract, also could be involved, as could Minnesota guards Troy Hudson and/or Marko Jaric. Hudson has three years left on his contract and Jaric four.
Kupchak has said the Lakers are looking for a veteran ball-handling guard.
Odom and Brown both underwent surgery last month, but Kupchak believes both will be ready to go when training camp begins in October.
McHale said last week he has always listened to trade proposals involving Garnett, adding: "Nothing has changed. You always listen. You listen, and it doesn't go very far and it hasn't gone very far now."
That was last week. Perhaps that's changed.
The Lakers and Timberwolves were Western Conference finalists following the 2003-04 season, but neither has been close in the last three years.
The Lakers traded Shaquille O'Neal to Miami after that season, and after missing the playoffs in 2005, they were eliminated in the first round by Phoenix each of the last two years. The Timberwolves haven't made the playoffs since 2004.
While he's expressed the hope of improving the Lakers, Kupchak knows how difficult making a major trade can be for several reasons.
"I can't say that until a deal is made," he said. "They change on a hairpin."