Perhaps the worst-kept secret in the NBA is that the Los Angeles Lakers may be unsatisfied with the state of their current roster and that a trade could be on the horizon. That trade could involve Russell Westbrook, but it may also include some of the team’s underperforming role players.
Whatever the case may be, it feels more likely than ever that the Lakers make some type of move before the Feb. 9 trade deadline. Especially now that Dec. 15 has passed and over 70 free agents that signed contracts during the summer of 2022 became trade eligible.
The desperation that hung over the Lakers in the offseason is ever-present, meaning L.A. must be careful in how they approach any deals. So even though Dec. 15 has come and gone, it may be some time before the Lakers finally make their long-awaited move.
Reportedly, the Lakers are taking a few more weeks to evaluate things before a trade can materialize, but they are still hopeful to make something happen before the trade deadline rears its head, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic:
Not for at least two to four weeks (the end of December through mid-January), according to multiple league sources with knowledge of their plans.
NBA trade history shows that trades don’t happen until January on the early side. Most happen within the final week of the trade deadline. There are exceptions, of course, and the Lakers hope to be one of them.
The Lakers have an urgency to get a deal done sooner than later. The sooner they improve their roster, the sooner they can turn their season around. But they’re also at the mercy of the trade cycle and the other teams’ developing motives.
For the Lakers, urgency is a must if they plan on competing in the playoffs this season. They sit at 11-16 and rank No. 21 in net rating prior to Friday night’s games. They currently hold the No. 12 seed in the Western Conference, two games removed from the Play-In Tournament.
Not all hope is lost, though. The smattering of teams in the middle of the West leaves the Lakers only four games out of sixth place and avoiding the Play-In Tournament altogether. With 1-2 quality moves, the Lakers may have enough juice to secure that spot.
It’s not unreasonable to say that some of the most important decisions of the Rob Pelinka tenure are going to come in the next two months. But for now, it appears they are set on doing something, even if it isn’t what Lakers fans originally thought.
Concerns remain about Westbrook-LeBron James fit
Even though Westbrook has appeared to be an improved player since transitioning to a bench role, the stats show a similar story to last season. Westbrook’s shooting and turnover inefficiencies have made him a puzzling fit next to LeBron James.
Reportedly, the Lakers still have internal concerns about Westbrook and James being able to play together, fueled by the team’s league-worst clutch net rating. Perhaps this could re-surface Westbrook trade rumors that calmed over the past few weeks.
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