More than halfway through the 2015-16 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers have only nine wins and things don’t look like they are going to be turning around anytime soon. As a team with multiple young players who need minutes to develop, it only makes sense that the veteran players would be mentioned in trade rumors.
In particular, the Lakers have four veterans who could be valuable contributors on playoff teams, all with different skills to offer in Lou Williams, Brandon Bass, Nick Young, and Roy Hibbert.
Hibbert has been something of a disappointment in his first year with the Lakers, but he remains a decent defensive presence and his massive $15 million contract comes off the books this season. Young had actually played relatively well early in the season and showed a renewed focus on the defensive end. His contract will also be a major bargain once the salary cap raises this summer.
Williams has been one of the leading scorers this season which could make him the most attractive veteran on the Lakers, but his presence has taken away minutes from the young guards. Bass has come on recently as well and has the easiest contract to move of the four.
All four have been mentioned in rumors, so we asked our panel of experts which veteran they believe is most likely to be traded before the NBA trade deadline in February. This is what they had to say:
Alan Huerta (@Alan_Huerta24): Out of every Laker that’s on the trading block, I believe Roy Hibbert is most likely to be gone by Feb. 18.
When Hibbert was traded to Los Angeles in exchange for a measly second-round pick, it was merely out of desperation since the Lakers struck out on every other frontcourt player in free agency. They were so desperate that they were willing to take on the salary dump of $15.5 million remaining in Hibbert’s final year; and the Indiana Pacers were willing to do so without hesitation.
In his time as a Laker, Hibbert has been underwhelming in nearly every statistical category. For someone who’s a starter and extremely overpaid, his production isn’t mounting up for what the Lakers expected when they traded for him. Seeing him out there, he just isn’t the same defensive presence that he used to be. The Lakers currently have the worst defense in the league and are in the bottom half in team rebounding, so as the “anchor” of the defense, a lot of blame has to go to the starting center.
As for Bass, I can also see him being dealt just because the Lakers wouldn’t lose much if he’d be gone, while a playoff team could utilize his production on both ends of the floor off the bench. Bass is an experienced player that brings energy and can contribute offensively in multiple ways, even when the offense isn’t ran through him. His numbers with the Lakers may not say this since he’s in a reduced role than he’s accustomed to, but Bass can fit in almost anywhere.
The only issue with teams trading for him is that he’s been dealing with a problematic foot injury that keeps coming and going. However, with the Lakers going nowhere fast and Bass having a low dollar contract, I can see a team making a move for him before the trade deadline.
Jabari Davis (@JabariDavisNBA): While an argument could probably be made for finding a way to move most or at least several of the veterans in the interest of stacking additional assets (draft picks, in particular), it’s always a matter of being able to find a suitor.
For these Lakers, although you certainly cannot ignore the opportunity to add significant talent this season if the “Godfather” offer were to present itself, you probably don’t want to add marginal “talent” to this year’s roster, which is why draft considerations seem to be the most likely target.
It became abundantly clear the team was specifically looking to showcase the veteran players with that in mind, and guys like Lou Williams and Brandon Bass appear to have made the most with those opportunities. Williams continues to display an ability to provide instant scoring and even some playmaking, while Bass has really been able to “rebound” from what was an inauspicious start to the year and looks to be every bit of the highly effective, hybrid big man willing to do all the dirty work as previously advertised.
That isn’t to say the front office wouldn’t still love to field and probe for offers from teams interested in adding a veteran big man like Roy Hibbert or a streak-and-volume scorer like Nick Young to solidify a rotation as well (of COURSE they would), but the betting money should probably lean toward either Bass and/or Williams being coveted most.
Maximo Gonzales (@MaximoBGonzales): Given the current state of the Lakers right now, a trade midway through the season seems almost inevitable. With the current state of play these Lakers are in, I only see one ideal solution where a trade could be made that would actually benefit the purple and gold.
I think it goes without saying that Hibbert hasn’t exactly lived up to the $15 million contract the Lakers took on prior to this year. Once the anchor of the most efficient defenses in the league, Hibbert has been exploited by the league’s mobile big men who do more than just protect the rim. Even more, Hibbert is allowing a career-high in opponent field goal percentage.
Meanwhile, after a pretty solid start to the season, Nick Young has seen his production take a huge fall. He hasn’t played in six of the Lakers last ten games, and the lack of playing time combined with his $11 million contract over the next two years isn’t doing any favors for the Lakers in the trade market.
So that leaves Bass, who has made the most out of his limited minutes thus far this season, averaging nearly seven points and four rebounds in just 17 minutes of play per game. His field goal percentage is at a career-high 57%, and his years of experience playing on championship-caliber squads over the years make him a highly valuable asset come playoff time. As much as I’d love to see Bass in a Lakers uniform, he is the one player that will give the purple and gold the most bang for their buck come trade deadline.
Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane): The trade deadline is swiftly approaching, and the Lakers appear to be set on hanging on to their valuable young players. However, that doesn’t mean that they will sit out the trade deadline completely, and they are rumored to be shopping several veteran players.
Of that group, Brandon Bass appears to be the most likely to be traded. His skill set would allow him to come off the bench for a number of teams, and the Lakers have young players at his position who could use minutes, most notably Tarik Black.
Additionally, Bass’ contract isn’t difficult to move at just $3 million with a player option for next season that he is unlikely to pick up. This is especially true when compared to Roy Hibbert’s massive $16 million deal or the remaining two years on Nick Young’s contract. The Lakers likely aren’t as attached to Bass as they are Lou Williams, who is locked up for two more seasons at the bargain price of $7 million per year.
A team looking to give their bench a quick boost before the playoffs will certainly have Bass on their radar, and he is without a doubt the most likely Laker to be on the move before the trade deadline.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): Roy Hibbert. Even before Hibbert played his first game for the Los Angeles Lakers, there was a good chance the veteran center would be dealt before the deadline. Hibbert’s contract expires after this season and all signs point to him heading elsewhere one way or another.
There have been rumors floating around over the past few weeks about the Lakers shopping Hibbert to playoff contenders. It wouldn’t be all that surprising if Hibbert asked the front office to trade him or if Mitch Kupchak and company are ready to sell off assets for draft picks.
Nick Young and Brandon Bass have also been rumored to be on the trading block. One of these two players could be packaged with Hibbert or traded in separate deals, but if I were to bet on it, I’d say Hibbert is dealt.
Nathaniel Lastrapes (@NathanielP2): It almost feels like a sure thing that Brandon Bass will be moved before the trade deadline. Let’s face it, Bass has not panned out to be the veteran leader in the locker room that we had hoped, and his production on the floor has been inconsistent.
The emergence of Larry Nance Jr. as a solid contributing role player has made Bass expendable, therefore it makes the most sense for the Lakers to move him in order to develop Nance Jr. and Randle. Bass will be better suited on a playoff team where he can play more meaningful minutes.
Bass is coming off of his best statistical performance of the season, where he scored 18 points with seven boards and three blocked shots. Bass’ breakthrough game comes at the most convenient of times; the Lakers have been rumored to be gauging interest in Bass from teams around the league.
Hibbert and Young are also likely candidates to be moved, but they do not possess as much trade value as Bass. Bass has been the ultimate professional throughout the season, as he has had to deal with Byron Scott’s lineup changes throughout the season, often resulting in a DNP-CD. Bass deserves to be in a better situation with a team that can compete in the playoffs, and the young Lakers forwards deserve more minutes because of their impressive play thus far in the season.