After a rough start to the season, the Los Angeles Lakers have shown progress recently, winning five of their last six games to improve to 7-11.
There are a variety of reasons for the recent improvement, but chief among them has been the play of Anthony Davis, who is looking like the version of himself that led the Lakers to a championship in 2020. LeBron James also recently came back from injury and had his best game of the season, scoring 39 points in a win over the San Antonio Spurs.
After this recent stretch of dominance from James, Davis and the Lakers, it appears there is some optimism in the locker room for the first time in a while. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the Lakers’ leaders believe that the team is a trade or two away from becoming championship contender:
There is belief shared by leaders in the Lakers’ locker room, sources said, that the team is only a couple of players away from turning this group into a legitimate contender. But acquiring the right players could take multiple trades.
The problem that the Lakers face moving forward is that they have limited assets at their disposal to improve this roster.
If the Lakers are gonna make a big move, they will likely have to use Russell Westbrook’s $47 million expiring contract along with their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks. If they want to split up those picks to use in separate deals then they also have the expiring salaries of Patrick Beverley ($13 million) and Kendrick Nunn ($5.3 million) to use as salary ballast.
Because of these limited assets, Rob Pelinka and the Lakers have to be diligent in finding the right deal to improve the team, which is why their timeline for making a trade has reportedly been pushed back to mid-January. More players will be trade eligible by then, plus, the Lakers will have more time to assess where the roster is at and what their needs are.
James wants Lakers to make in-season trade instead of waiting until offseason
Still though, it appears Pelinka is receiving some pressure from James to make a move as it was recently reported that he wants the team to do something now instead of waiting until next summer and effectively punting on the 2022-23 season.
This new report about the belief amongst the leaders in the Lakers locker room would match that request from James, so now it will be interesting to see what Pelinka does moving forward to bring in those players to get L.A. back into contention.
In the meantime though, James, Davis and the Lakers need to continue playing well to show Pelinka that they are indeed close to contending.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!