Exiled Jazzman Raja Bell has been telling players and friends around the league that he'll join the Lakers, according to Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni is open to the possibility of picking up Bell if he becomes available.
The only catch is that he is still under contract with the Jazz. Despite not playing a single game, Bell will make $3.48 million in 2012-13, but his contract expires at the end of the season.
Kevin O’Connor, Utah Jazz Senior VP of Basketball Operations, recently sat down with 1280 The Zone to discuss, among other things, Bell's situation.
"We'll be willing to look at a buyout. We're not just going to let him walk away; we're paying him the money. He can't get all the money from us and then get more from the Lakers, 'Oh Thank you!' I'd get fired for that — I'd fire me for that," O'Conner said in the interview.
O’Connor said that if it were in the best interest of the team, he would keep Bell under contract so that he doesn't sign with the Lakers. The Lakers currently trail Utah and Houston for the final playoff spot in the West.
"Raja said 'I'll take a buyout.' We said it from the start, all we want is a minimum buyout. We never heard from him. He never said yes to it; we would have done it right away."
Bell's second stint with the Jazz has been lackluster. During the 2010-11 season, he played in 68 games posting the second worst field goal percentage of his career while averaging just under 31 minutes per game.
According to Yahoo! Sports contributor Andrew Sweat, Bell is one of "the five worst PER guards over the last five years."
PER stands for Player Efficiency Rating, an advanced basketball statistic that attempts to measure a players overall per-minute performance. The formula is calculated so that the league average is always 15.00.
According to Sweat, Bell has the worst PER among guards who have averaged at least 25 minutes per game, posting a 9.8.
During the lockout shortened 2011-12 season he played in 34 games starting in 33 and averaging 6.4 points per game, his lowest in 10 seasons. He was also sent home early during a road trip after a locker room dispute with Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin.
After seeing no playing time in last season's playoff series loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Bell complained about his relationship with Corbin saying he was frustrated with the way Corbin told him about his decision to move him to a reserve role.
"I just thought that the way I was handled by Ty was unprofessional," Bell said after the game. "I do think given the opportunity and a role that's established and not just jumping all over the place from night to night that I could contribute."
In the same interview, Bell also said he didn't think he had a future with the team, expressing dissatisfaction with the lack of communication.
"When it gets to a point where there's absolutely no communication for months on end," Bell said, "I think we all know that that's irreparable damage."
During the off-season, Bell's relationship with the Jazz became even more strained. He was not invited to attend training camp.
"At my age and what I've got in my tank, I feel like a limited role is best," Bell told Florida radio station 640 Sports. "I don't really like playing 35 minutes a night anymore."
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