The NBA trade deadline came and went with vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and the Los Angeles Lakers not making a move.
Many potential deals were discussed, but nothing came to fruition. This did not come as much of a surprise as despite the rumors, the team’s trade assets were minimal at best.
It was always believed the most likely avenue for the Lakers to make moves was through 2020 NBA free agency and the buyout market. Now that the trade deadline has passed, that market is beginning to take shape and potential options are beginning to present themselves.
Here are some of the candidates for the Lakers in the market and what they could bring to the team, but it should be noted that not everyone listed is a guarantee to be available come March 1 to qualify for the 2020 NBA playoffs:
Darren Collison | Free Agent
The first option is the most obvious and one who has been linked to the Lakers for some time now. Collison retired in the 2019 NBA offseason, but is now looking to come back and would be perfect for this Lakers team.
One of the biggest concerns for the Lakers is playmaking when LeBron James is out of the game. Collison has always been a very solid playmaker (5.0 assists per game in his career) who takes care of the basketball and is a reliable spot-up shooter. Collison is a career 39.4 percent three-point shooter who has hit at least 40 percent in each of his last four seasons.
Of all the options, this seems to be the most likely. Collison fits a number of needs and would likely be the best addition they could make as far as affecting this championship run.
JR Smith | Free Agent
There was a time when Smith was a crucial part of a championship run with James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, at this point in his career, it would seem that his best days are behind him and it is unclear how much of a difference he would really make.
At his best, Smith was a streaky shooter capable of getting hot at any moment, while also possessing enough size and athleticism to be a passable defender when he was locked in. Last season, Smith played in just 11 games and shot 30.8 percent from the three-point line.
The Lakers will reportedly bring in Smith for a workout. He obviously has a ton of experience and knows how to play off James but considering what fans last saw from him, it is hard to see him being any better than the team’s current wing options.
Reggie Jackson | Detroit Pistons
It remains unclear whether the Pistons will choose to buy out Jackson (whose contract expires after this season), but reports are that they are considering it. Should Jackson hit the market, he could represent possibly the highest ceiling option available for the Lakers.
While Collison is the more reliable point guard option, Jackson provides a little more upside, especially as a scorer. He has always been capable of getting his own shot and is shooting a career-high 40.4% from the three-point line this season. He has the size to be a solid defender on guards if he buys in on that end and is capable of playing both on and off the ball which is a must on a team with James.
Jackson is a talented combo guard who is still only 29 years old. He is a little more unknown than someone like Collison, but could provide even higher rewards and may have a chip on his shoulder after years of toiling away in Detroit.
Marvin Williams | Charlotte Hornets
While Williams never quite reached his potential as the No. 2 pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, he has quietly become one of the more reliable combo forwards in the league but has hardly been noticed as he has spent the last six seasons with the Hornets.
It is no secret that the biggest obstacle to the Lakers in the Western Conference are the Los Angeles Clippers and one concern in facing them is having enough players to guard Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Williams would give the Lakers another big body to throw at them as opposed to going with much smaller players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Alex Caruso.
Additionally, Williams has shot at least 35% from the three-point line in each of the last seven seasons including 37.6 percent this season. When it comes to bigger wings who can defend adequately and space the floor, Williams may very well present the best option should the Hornets decide to part ways.
UPDATE: Williams reportedly will sign with Milwaukee Bucks.
Jeff Green | Free Agent
Green has long been one of the biggest enigmas in the entire NBA. On certain nights, he looks as if he could be a starter on any team while other nights, he is completely invisible on the court.
What he would undoubtedly bring to the Lakers is another big combo forward that the team could throw at the Leonards and Georges of the world and who has a ton of playoff experience. While not the shooter that Williams is, he is a slightly better athlete who would bring more highlights, but less consistency.
Williams being bought out is still not a guarantee, but Green is a current free agent. Should the Lakers not quite trust Kuzma and Williams is not available, Green could be the best option if they feel a wing is the best option.
Tristan Thompson | Cleveland Cavaliers
With the Cavaliers trading for Andre Drummond, Thompson seems like an ideal buyout candidate. Much like Smith, his connection to James is sure to bring rumblings should he become available, but his fit is not as ideal as others.
Thompson’s game is well known. He is a long and active big man who is great at crashing the boards and is a solid finisher at the rim. He knows his role and does not play outside of his capabilities, plus he is still only 28 years old and has championship experience.
The problem for Thompson and the Lakers is that there is no need for him in the frontcourt. Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard have been more than competent and the playoffs will likely bring more minutes for Davis at center. Barring an injury of some sort, this one seems unlikely.
Isaiah Thomas | Los Angeles Clippers
A familiar name, but one whose game has fallen off as of late. Unfortunately for Thomas, it seems as if his best days are in the rearview mirror but if the Lakers feel he is better than their current point guard options, he could be given a look.
Thomas has been a little better this season with the Washington Wizards, averaging 12.2 points and knocking down 41.3 percent from the three-point line. However, the quickness he once had has tailed off which makes it even tougher for him to get his shots off consistently and his defensive shortcomings are well known.
In order for the Lakers to look past his issues on defense, he has to be next level on offense and he just does not bring that level of scoring anymore.
If point guard is the move for the Lakers, there are just better options available.