The Los Angeles Lakers have only a few more days to reshape their roster before the NBA moves past Thursday’s 12 p.m. PT trade deadline.
L.A. has been linked to several players over the last few weeks, including the Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner, the Sacramento Kings’ Buddy Hield, and the Detroit Pistons’ Jerami Grant.
Any deal would almost certainly need to involve Talen Horton-Tucker as the 21-year-old guard’s three-year, $31 million contract is one of the only few valuable trade assets the Purple and Gold have to offer. The Lakers could also try including Kendrick Nunn and the 2027 first-round pick in any package to get the player they want.
Although L.A. likely won’t make a splash with their trade activity this year, LeBron James said the franchise will certainly watch the market in case a chance to strengthen the roster comes up.
“I’ve always felt like, listen, I really don’t like to play fantasy basketball, so this is the group that we have going into the deadline and we’ll be ready to take on all challenges that this season has given us,” James said, before adding: “If there’s an opportunity, I’ve said this every year, if there’s an opportunity for us to get better, then we’ll explore those options.
“If you have an opportunity to get better, no one turns that down. As great as the Rams were, they had an opportunity to get a guy like Odell and they went and got him. So if we have an opportunity to get better, you try and get better, and if not then you rock and roll with what you got.”
The Lakers have reportedly considered parting ways with Russell Westbrook after the 33-year-old guard’s first season in L.A. quickly turned sour. Head coach Frank Vogel recently benched Westbrook in crunch time for the second time this season, deciding to battle the New York Knicks without the 2017 NBA MVP in overtime of Saturday’s 122-115 win.
Asked how L.A. deals with Westbrook’s struggles and the trade rumors surrounding the guard, James said he wants his “brother” to ignore the speculations and let his be the response to the “rumblings” off the court.
“For me, as a brother to Russ, at the end of the day, I only care about his state of mind and how much he can give to himself,” James said.
“If he commits to himself, then it will trickle down to the rest of us. So I don’t really get into all the other schematics or things off the floor, all I care about is how he is, how his well-being is, how his family is doing. The game will translate.
“If you put the work in, the game will translate. Guys struggle all the time, guys feel like they’re not themselves or feel like they can do more, and that’s OK. But at the end of the day, as his brother, we all are in this together, we’re all in the foxhole together, there’s not one guy that’s doing it by himself, there’s not one guy that we can blame over another guy, there’s not one guy that gets the praise over another guy. When we lose, we all lose. When we win, we all win. It’s literally that simple.”
Vogel explains decision to bench Westbrook against Knicks
Vogel said his decision to sit Westbrook in the key moments of the clash against the Knicks wasn’t out of the ordinary.
“Well, there’s nothing wrong with any player if someone is not playing well enough and they don’t get to finish the game or they don’t get to close the game out,” he said.
“There’s nothing wrong with giving somebody else you feel is going to give you a better chance given them that opportunity.”
And Vogel added: “Hopefully, the response is that player plays better. That’s the hope.”
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