While resuming with the normalcy of an NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers are still dealing with the unthinkable loss of Kobe Bryant.
Bryant, along with his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others, were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. The Lakers obviously have not gotten over this and likely never will but with this tragedy coming just before the 2019-20 NBA trade deadline, it would’ve been hard for the Lakers to make a move.
The team ended up standing pat at the deadline despite exploratory conversations with the New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, and Brooklyn Nets — among others. And while a good deal not coming up is likely the No. 1 reason the Lakers did not end up making a deal, it was Bryant’s passing that soured the idea of trades altogether.
Trade talks from the Lakers always seemed half-hearted and that undoubtedly went back to Bryant’s death, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com:
Through it all, a source said, the Lakers’ pursuit of roster changes in the past week was half-hearted. And that goes back to the tragic helicopter crash that took the life of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others on January 26, just 11 days ahead of the trade deadline.
The idea of trading players — who had just dealt with the same tragedy — across the country and removing them from the Lakers was something the team’s front office had little interest in doing:
“There was not a lot of appetite for changing things,” one team source said. “There wasn’t a lot of appetite for telling players they’re going to Minnesota or Atlanta or somewhere, Charlotte, wherever. If there’s an offer you can’t say no to, of course, you’re going to take it. But the idea of breaking things up after what’s happened with Kobe, it wasn’t something anyone seemed to want to do.”
This Lakers roster is known around the league for their chemistry and Bryant’s death only furthered the connection they have with one another. Breaking that up for the purpose of a trade seemed like something that had the chance to do more harm than good.
However, the Lakers may have to put this aside for the buyout market as the team still has real improvements to make.