The Los Angeles Lakers are piecing things together at a fascinating time for the entire organization. Despite major injuries to Jarred Vanderbilt and Gabe Vincent from the main rotation, L.A. has won three straight games for the first time since early December behind not just elite performances from LeBron James, but also Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves and more.
But the three wins have come in the team’s final three games before the NBA trade deadline on Thursday afternoon, putting Rob Pelinka and the Lakers front office in a tricky spot. Making a trade could disrupt a rhythm that the Lakers have not had all season, but basing decisions off of three games could lead to disaster after the deadline. So the Lakers have to go with their instincts, making for an intriguing final days before the deadline.
James, as per usual, is not going to give the front office any public indication of what he wants them to do. He may drop hints here and there while stating what he wants privately, but he has never been the type to openly say what he wants his teams to do. He took that to the extreme after L.A.’s win against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“This is who we have, so there’s nothing else to talk about.”
The Lakers star did say that he believes in the team as currently constructed, but combined it with the fact that he’ll believe that regardless of who is on the team after Thursday:
“That’s not a question for me. I love who we have in the locker room, and that’s all I worry about… I don’t get caught up in that. We’re gonna go out and prepare ourselves every single night no matter what it is. No matter who’s out on this team. No matter what. It’s my job and it’s AD’s job as the two captains to make sure we keep the main thing the main thing. The main focus is now: Thursday’s game at home. We look forward to that matchup.”
James wanted to focus more on the future of the Lakers and less on a surprise 4-2 road trip to close out the pre-deadline portion of the season:
“Those games are behind us, but it was a successful trip. For us to go 4-2 on this trip and deal with some adversity, deal with some injuries early on the trip, to be able to finish the trip like we did was a success. But you move on when you get home, you move on to that next stage and don’t worry about what you did in the past.”
The Lakers may have found the recipe for success just in time to avoid breaking the team apart at the deadline. Or, the Lakers were always going to make some type of trade and these last few games were less relevant than anticipated. Either way, L.A. has to try and compete for a championship with whoever they have come Thursday. James, for one, is ready for that task.
Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell not worried about trade rumors
D’Angelo Russell has been named in just about every rumor involving the Lakers. The Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors have all been tied to him as destinations that either have interest in him as a player or as salary ballast for a player the Lakers want to acquire. At this point, it seems as though if the Lakers are going to make a major move, Russell is likely to be involved.
But this is nothing new for the veteran guard, as he has been traded four times in eight seasons. All of that movement has given him a different perspective on how to approach the deadline and the associated rumors. He, at this point, does not care about whether or not he’s dealt.
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