3 reasons the Lakers shouldn’t make a move ahead of the NBA trade deadline
With the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline quickly approaching, the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in limbo. They currently own a record of 25-24, which has them on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture. LeBron James is still out with the most cryptic groin injury we have ever seen, so no one really knows for sure when he will be back.
Rajon Rondo is now back after missing extensive time following hand surgery, but Lonzo Ball will be out for quite a while due to a sprained ankle.
So, as you can see, things are not exactly working out the way the Lakers hoped this year, and it certainly does not look like they can simply add a piece or two at the deadline and compete with the Golden State Warriors.
James’ health is a big wild card here. I’m sure James knows the deal with his groin and I’m sure the Lakers’ organization knows, and you kind of get the feeling that both parties would be much more open about the injury if he were going to be back soon.
Based on that, let’s just assume that LeBron is going to be sidelined for a while.
If that’s the case, then Los Angeles is not a playoff team. Right now, the Lakers are two losses behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, and the longer James is out, the more LA will fall in the standings.
The Lakers are just 5-10 since James went down with the groin injury on Christmas, and it’s not like they were even all that great with him.
Basically, if you are a Lakers fan hoping the team makes a big splash at the deadline, you should probably temper your expectations, because there is a very good chance it doesn’t happen.
Here are three reasons why:
One thing the Lakers absolutely, positively do not want to do is take back any salary beyond this year.
Los Angeles is going to be looking to add a top-tier free agent this summer, which is exactly why Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka signed a bunch of guys to one-year deals this past offseason.
That means that any deals the Lakers would make at this trading deadline would have to be for players on expiring contracts, and that is just tough to do because you are essentially giving up assets for rentals.
Unless Los Angeles goes out and adds someone like Kemba Walker or Jimmy Butler, the Lakers are probably not going to want to extend anybody this summer.
Sure, you need role players to win, but Los Angeles is not a role player or two away from contending. The Lakers need much more than that, so going out and acquiring a guy like JaMychal Green just for a few months is pointless.
2. Save Assets for Anthony Davis
We all know the big fish that the Lakers are after, and it’s New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis.
However, barring something completely drastic and out of left field, the Pelicans are not going to be trading Davis before the deadline, and if they decide to trade him at all, it won’t be until this summer.
So, if you’re the Lakers, why burn assets now when you can save them in a potential mega-deal for Davis in the offseason?
We know what young assets Los Angeles has: Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Ball, Josh Hart and even Ivica Zubac all represent viable potential options to use in a trade for Davis, so trading one or more of them before the deadline will just be a waste unless the Lakers are trying to acquire another star before attempting to get AD.
And even then, Los Angeles needs to be careful, because its trade chips are solely in its young players. The Lakers don’t have any enticing draft picks like the Boston Celtics do, for example, so all of LA’s assets are in the form of established talent.
With the Pelicans losing more and more and Davis getting closer and closer to his player option during the summer of 2020, the match between Davis and Hollywood is becoming that much more possible.
The Lakers need to be careful not to compromise that.
1. The Warriors
Look: the Lakers are not beating the Warriors this year. No way, no how.
As a matter of fact, the only way Los Angeles would have a chance is if it somehow went out and acquired Davis over these next two weeks, and that is just not going to happen.
There is not a move or two or three that the Lakers can make to put them on par with Golden State, so why waste the time, energy and assets trying to chase a ghost that you are not going to be able to catch?
Right now, Magic and Pelinka simply need to regroup and punt to the offseason, where they can have a shot at landing The Brow. Unless the Lakers can somehow swing a deal for someone like Kemba between now and Feb. 7, any exploit Los Angeles makes at the deadline will be for naught.
The Warriors have proven that they are still the class of the West and of the NBA in general, while the Lakers haven’t even proven they can make the playoffs.
Los Angeles needs to see the bigger picture and set its sights on bigger goals. A title isn’t happening in 2019.