The Los Angeles Lakers have been involved in trade rumors ahead of Thursday’s deadline even though they don’t have plenty of assets to send in exchange for their targets.
L.A. has only two players signed to contracts that aren’t either a max extension or a veteran minimum deal: Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn. That makes them the two most likely assets to be included in any potential trade package the Lakers could come up with, in addition to their 2027 first-round pick.
Despite rumors of L.A.’s willingness to part ways with Russell Westbrook, his $44.2 million salary — which will increase to $47 million next year if he uses his player option — is generally considered unmovable.
Still, uncertainty can understandably creep into a locker room ahead of the trade deadline. But head coach Frank Vogel said his players know how to deal with the pressure that comes around this time of the year.
“That’s just something that players have to play through,” Vogel said. “I don’t think we need to overcommunicate in those situations. They know the business, so I don’t overcommunicate in those situations.”
Vogel also said he doesn’t want to assess the Lakers’ potential through the prism of what they could add to the roster through a trade. Rather, he remembers that injuries have derailed the first half of L.A.’s season.
“You have to evaluate what you’ve had,” Vogel said. “You can’t focus on what you haven’t had. You evaluate on the body of work our guys have put forth so far and understanding that we haven’t been whole for most of the year. You just make decisions based on that.”
However, LeBron James said the Lakers would not turn down an opportunity to “get better” before Thursday’s trade deadline.
Vogel reiterates Lakers’ optimism is ‘going to be strong’ if they are healthy
Vogel once again said the Lakers have confidence in their roster’s competitiveness, provided that the Purple and Gold can remain healthy in key stages of 2021-22.
“The optimism goes back to the offseason,” Vogel said. “I think when your starting point is LeBron James and Anthony Davis, you’ve got a chance. Obviously, with Russell’s body of work and the way Malik [Monk] is playing. Our centers, our wings and our shooters.
“If they all come together with the starting point being LeBron and AD, you’ve got a chance. The optimism is going to be strong.”
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!