The Los Angeles Lakers bounced back after a terrible start to the 2022-23 season, likely changing the front office’s strategy in the trade market.
The Purple and Gold won just two of their first 12 games, owning one of the NBA’s worst offenses. At the same time, Troy Brown Jr., Thomas Bryant, and Dennis Schroder had to wait for their season debuts after picking up injuries in the preseason.
L.A.’s poor form prompted trade rumors to reemerge with reports claiming vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka could again try to flip Russell Westbrook for roster reinforcements in the coming weeks.
But after Westbrook started to flourish in a sixth-man role and the injured players returned, the Lakers made an impressive turnaround, winning eight of their next 10 games. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski now reports the Purple and Gold aren’t likely to make a big trade involving their two first-round picks unless they can get an “All-Star level player” in return, via ClutchPoints:
“I think this stretch has bought them a little bit of time now to really not have to rush into anything. The conversations that are going on right now ahead of the trade deadline, outside of Jae Crowder, John Collins, who are players I think both teams want to move sooner than later, it’s mostly teams just calling each other going ‘What are you interested in? What are the needs you’re trying to fill? Here’s what we would like.’ Not so much making concrete offers. That starts to come as we get closer to the trade deadline. But I think for the Lakers, I think their strategy remains the same, which is we know what their assets are — the ‘27 and the ‘29 unprotected first-round picks — that they’re not going to use those unless they can get back essentially an All-Star level player. It remains to be seen if those kind of players are available at the deadline. Like a lot of teams, I think the Lakers will watch Chicago, see if that is an organization that decides it might pivot before the trade deadline. But I think what’s more realistic is expiring contracts and maybe one of those picks in a deal. I don’t know that there’s a two-pick deal out there for the Lakers.”
Wojnarowski said there aren’t concrete offers being discussed among NBA teams at the moment. And when it comes to the Lakers, he mentioned L.A. is likely to look for expiring contracts and could perhaps include one of their first-rounders in a deal.
However, the Chicago Bulls are mentioned as a team that could potentially talk L.A. into trading their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks if Chicago decided to hit the reset button and make their All-Stars available.
Earlier reports claimed the Purple and Gold have shown interest in Bulls stars DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic.
Timberwolves sign former Lakers forward Matt Ryan to two-way deal
The Lakers waived Matt Ryan last week to open up a roster spot, suggesting L.A. is indeed monitoring the developments on the trade market. But Ryan has already found a new team with the Minnesota Timberwolves signing the knockdown 3-point shooter to a two-way deal.
The 6-foot-6 forward made 12 appearances for L.A., averaging 3.9 points and 1.2 rebounds in 10.8 minutes per game. And he made 37.1% of his 3-point attempts on 2.9 tries per night.
Ryan then thanked the Lakers for the opportunity to spend the first month of the 2022-23 season with them, tweeting that “playing in the NBA, let alone for this franchise, is special.”