After deciding to stand pat at the 2019-20 NBA trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers have since been linked to several players via the buyout market.
The buyout market in recent seasons has become more competitive as veteran players with something left in the tank have seemed more willing to forego guaranteed money for the chance to play with championship contenders. While these players have historically made minimal impacts come playoff time, there is still a market for their services since they are able to remedy specific team weaknesses.
Although the Lakers have the best record in the Western Conference, there are clear deficiencies on the roster. Los Angeles was heavily linked to Darren Collison as they are in desperate need of a secondary playmaker but were dealt a blow as he ultimately decided to stay in retirement.
They could also use bigger bodies to check wing players because given the team’s current construction, only LeBron James, Danny Green, and Anthony Davis can credibly defend them. One name that could be of service to the Lakers would be Moe Harkless who currently plays for the New York Knicks.
However, that appears to be a long shot as Harkless seems set on finishing the 2019-20 NBA season out with the Knicks, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
New York Knicks forward Moe Harkless is a player teams are monitoring as a buyout target, but the plan is for both sides to finish the year out together, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) February 21, 2020
Harkless himself has already come out and said he is remaining in New York despite their record, according to Stefan Bondy of New York Daily News:
Moe Harkless says he’s remaining with the Knicks the rest of the season but going from a contender to a non-playoff team has been an adjustment: “Everything is different, the culture and everything.”
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) February 21, 2020
The Los Angeles Clippers sent Harkless to the Knicks in a deal that brought back Marcus Morris, but the former is still a solid defender with the ability to check perimeter players like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. He is also a solid shooter from the corners, so he would be a natural fit playing next to James who is historically great at passing to that part of the floor.
Things can change between Harkless and the Knicks but for now, it is probably safe to assume that he is not an option for the Lakers at this time. However, Los Angeles still earned a win from the buyout market as Markieff Morris is reportedly set to join the team once he clears waivers.
It remains to be seen if the Lakers will make any other additions, but they should be in a good spot going forward no matter what direction they choose.