The Los Angeles Lakers — and the rest of the NBA — sit just about one day away from a potentially seismic trade deadline. Big moves have already been made by teams like the Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Sacramento Kings, but the Lakers have yet to make a move.
Given L.A.’s 26-29 record and the fact that they’ve slipped to No. 9 in the Western Conference, one would think they’d be among the most active teams at the deadline. However, due to an undeniable lack of assets and an albatross of a contract in Russell Westbrook, a deal simply won’t come easily.
There is an argument to be made that the Lakers are better off standing pat, essentially waving the white flag on the 2021-22 season, and trying to reload in the offseason. But that is reportedly not the belief of the players on the roster, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
While Los Angeles is 10-8 in those games, standing pat and hoping that winning percentage improves to finish the season strong is not seen as a viable option by players on the team, sources told ESPN.
There is no denying that the morale within the locker room is at a season-low. After a blowout loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, LeBron James openly said that he doesn’t feel L.A. can compete at a championship level as things currently stand.
So if the players are pushing to make a move, and the front office recognizes that the team cannot win a championship as constructed, the question becomes what moves are even available.
Of course, if things get truly desperate in the next 24 hours, the Lakers could always offer their 2027 first-round draft pick to the Houston Rockets to complete a Westbrook-for-John Wall swap. Wall likely does not put the Lakers in championship contention, but he is arguably a better fit on the current roster and may bring some stability.
There is also the possibility of dealing Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, and veteran minimums in the hopes of returning a modest improvement at needed positions.
Through all of this, it is fairly clear that the Lakers are in desperation mode. If they stand pat, they are essentially calling it quits on this season, but if they make a move, they risk yet another regrettable trade to further dig themselves into a deep hole.
Confidence fading in Big 3
The Lakers front office — like the players — are recognizing that this season may be a lost cause with Westbrook. According to reports, the team believes that winning a championship with Westbrook alongside James and Anthony Davis is not in the cards.
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