After winning eight of their last 10 games before facing the Cleveland Cavaliers last Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers are back to their losing ways. They’ve dropped three games in a row, including a wild loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, and now have the third-worst record in the Western Conference.
Some context is critical for the losses — against the Cavaliers, Anthony Davis left the game early with flu-like symptoms, against the Raptors, LeBron James, Davis and Patrick Beverley were out. And against the 76ers, early foul trouble hurt Davis’ ability to be aggressive.
Still, a loss is a loss and after showing some life, the Lakers took three steps back. Trade talks have quieted, but L.A.’s strategy hasn’t changed. They will reportedly only include the 2027 and 2029 first-round picks if it’s for an All-Star player, something the Lakers have stuck by.
Some of those All-Star caliber players, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic, are in Chicago, where the Bulls are spiraling with an 11-14 record. Russell Westbrook would have to be included in the move, but Chicago isn’t interested in making a deal with the Lakers, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:
So while the Lakers might be looking to make a big trade and have their eyes on the Bulls’ roster, the feeling isn’t mutual. According to a source, executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has no interest in acquiring Russell Westbrook and his expiring contract, even if it means adding draft picks.
Might that change by the trade deadline Feb. 9? With Karnisovas, everything is usually on the table. As of right now, however, the Bulls are still set on monitoring Lonzo Ball and his surgically repaired left knee, with the hope he will return and give them a glimpse of what they will look like whole.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported earlier this month that the Lakers have had internal discussions about a deal surrounding DeRozan and Vucevic. It’s unclear the level of interest the Lakers might have for the trade, but it shows L.A. is not done retooling its roster.
Westbrook’s recent resurgence off the bench likely increased his extremely low trade value. However, the first-round picks will always be the minimum asking price for other teams when considering a deal with the Lakers. Earlier this month, it was reported that the Lakers are leaning toward a smaller deal involving Beverley and Kendrick Nunn for role players.
Lonzo Ball’s timeline is not clear either. It was reported on Sept. 28 that Ball would be reevaluated in four to six weeks after arthroscopic debridement on his left knee. It’s been almost 10 weeks since then with no new update on Ball, halting not only the Bulls’ progress but also a potential deal that could spark the Lakers’ roster.
Westbrook joins Magic Johnson as the only Laker with triple-double off the bench
Some of the Lakers’ improved play recently can be attributed to Westbrook’s role off the bench.
He’s averaged 15.2 points, 8 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game in 21 games when not starting this season. An increased usage rate has seemed to pay off with key performances from Westbrook propelling the Lakers to more wins.
Friday night, he continued his improved play by recording his first triple-double of the season. He also became the second Laker ever with a triple-double off the bench, joining Magic Johnson in 1996. Not bad company for the former MVP to join.
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