The Los Angeles Lakers are in a tough spot going into the annual NBA trade deadline on Thursday afternoon.
Sitting at 25-30 and 13th place in the Western Conference, the Lakers obviously need to make moves if they want to get back into championship contention.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis continue to play at a very high level, but the pieces around them are subpar and Russell Westbrook continues to see his name in trade rumors.
To this point, for the Lakers to trade Westbrook and his expiring $47 million salary, teams have required one or both of L.A.’s 2027 and 2029 first-round picks. If the Lakers are going to part with those valuable assets though, then they have to be sure that the deal will elevate the team to contender status.
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss commented on that exact scenario, telling Melissa Rohlin of Fox Sports that while they are always looking to improve, they want to make sure they are not setting the franchise back:
“We’re always looking to improve our roster, but what we will not do is we’re not going to make a deal that sets us back,” Buss told FOX Sports on Tuesday. “Because you could take one step forward and then go two steps back. So, we’re always monitoring everything.”
Buss made sure to emphasize that the Lakers do not want to compromise their future with any deadline deals:
“We’re always looking to get better,” she said, “but not at the cost of compromising our future.”
These comments would seem to indicate that the Lakers will be hesitant to part with their 2027 and 2029 picks. While they were willing to offer both in a trade for Kyrie Irving, there may not be another game-changing type of move like that available for L.A.
With the deadline quickly approaching on Thursday at 12 p.m. PT, the Lakers only have a short amount of time left to make some very important decisions for the organization’s short and long-term future.
James believes Lakers can compete as currently constructed
While James openly expressed disappointment in the Lakers’ inability to reunite him with his former co-star in Irving, he also said he believes L.A. can with the championship as currently constructed if healthy.
Those may be his public thoughts, but in conversations with Buss, Rob Pelinka and the Lakers brass, James is likely lobbying for some sort of deal to get done to give him some more help.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!