Stein: Lakers may be interested in Kirk Hinrich. Laker fans, you may now be depressed.

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From ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:

Keep an eye on Atlanta Hawks guard Kirk Hinrich. If the Lakers can’t make a splashy move for the elite point guard they crave — a long shot at best at this point — and can’t swing a deal for top fallback choice Ramon Sessions, taking Hinrich and his $8.1 million salary into their $8.9 million Lamar Odom trade exception is a natural move to give L.A. some semblance of an upgrade in the backcourt going into the postseason.

The Hawks, as always, want to reduce payroll and would gladly take a future draft pick back for Hinrich, who’s no longer part of their plans. The Lakers, though, are rather skittish themselves about adding payroll these days, which is why they gave Odom away to the rival Mavericks in the first place and could actually prevent them from doing anything.

L.A. would naturally want Atlanta to take back some salary in a Hinrich deal, but there’s zero chance of that happening.

For the Lakers, the main reason to do this trade would be that they desperately need someone who can provide penetration and outside shooting, and Hinrich is indeed a point guard. On the other hand, Kirk Hinrich has not been playing basketball well. At all. Which is an issue.

Hinrich was an extremely promising young guard in the 06-07 season, when he scored 16.6 points per game on 44.8% shooting from the field and 41.5% from beyond the arc while playing excellent defense, but has been in a kind of downward spiral ever since. This year, the 31-year old Hinrich is averaging 4.8 points and 2.5 assists per game on 34.0%/23.7%/57.1% shooting, and has an abysmal PER of 7.17.

There’s a chance that Hinrich could re-find his old form playing with Bryant, Gasol, and Bynum, but this would be the definition of a desperation trade for the Lakers.