The NBA trade deadline is quickly approaching and rumors are flying that the Los Angeles Lakers will part with veteran guard Lou Williams. A deal for Williams certainly makes sense, as he has been the team’s best player, but isn’t part of the young core. With the Lakers all but out of the playoff hunt, cashing in win now pieces in exchange for future assets could pay off.
The Washington Wizards, who are currently slotted third in the Eastern Conference, have had an excellent season based largely on the success of their starting unit. Superstar guard John Wall has had a tremendous campaign, but Washington’s bench could use a serious boost, which Williams can provide.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe mentioned in a piece on the trade deadline that the Wizards have indeed explored sending a first-round pick to the Lakers in exchange for their leading scorer:
Several reports have linked the Wiz to Lou Williams, and Washington has indeed explored trading a protected first-round pick for the king of the 2-for-1. That makes me a little queasy, despite Williams’ monster season and an affordable $7 million contract that runs through 2017-18 — big for a capped-out team with limited means to boost the roster in free agency.
Williams’ game doesn’t hold up as well in the playoffs, when referees don’t buy his flailing and opponents pick at his defense over and over. He doesn’t move the needle enough toward Cleveland territory to justify sending out a precious chance at nabbing a cheap young player. Washington could also use the midlevel exception — a real tool again! — to land a decent backup this summer, though that might rocket them into the luxury tax once they re-sign Porter.
Wait out the Lakers, and Washington might be able to get Williams for a couple of second-rounders.
As much as Lowe’s initial paragraph should make Lakers fans ears perk up, the next two are sobering. Williams has had an incredible season, scoring efficiently and pacing the highest-scoring bench in the league.
Given their lacking future picks, Los Angeles could greatly use a first rounder, and should absolutely demand it if they are to part ways with their best player who is also on a team-friendly contract. As good as the Lakers have been at finding players late in the draft, two second round picks just doesn’t cut it.