The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to make moves before the Feb. 10 trade deadline.
It's unclear whether the Lakers (20-19) can make any major mid-season acquisitions — their only non-stars not on minimum contracts are Talen Horton-Tucker, 21, and Kendrick Nunn (who hasn't played this season), and they can't trade a first-round pick before 2027.
However, that isn't stopping vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka from working the phone lines to create as much flexibility and maximize the talent around the fringes of the roster.
Earlier this week, the Lakers finalized their first trade of the 2021-22 NBA season — a three-teamer that sent Rajon Rondo to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Denzel Valentine to the New York Knicks, shuffled draft rights for a few overseas players, and opened up a roster spot for the Lakers while saving them about $4 million.
According to the latest report from ESPN's Brian Windhorst, similar moves could be in the works for Los Angeles.
“From teams that I've talked to, they are out there. With LeBron starting at center and eventually getting Anthony Davis back, they are looking to move DeAndre Jordan. Not necessarily for another player, but to move him so they can open up a roster spot. Kent Bazemore is another player that they've been willing to talk about.”
“Their goal is: open up a roster spot. The Rondo move looks like it was gonna be designed for Stanley Johnson to fill. But they may look at the buyout market for another player or two.”
Lakers still have $4.4M in cash left they can send out trades. A portion of it can be used as incentive for teams to take on DeAndre Jordan and Kent Bazemore.
They already attached cash to get off Rajon Rondo (as well as Denzel Valentine's partial guarantee) and Marc Gasol. https://t.co/FPfLNav0GW
— Yossi Gozlan (@YossiGozlan) January 5, 2022
As Windhorst noted, the Rondo trade enables the Lakers to sign Stanley Johnson, who proved to be an essential wing defender in his 10-day hardship contract. The Lakers can sign Johnson for the rest of the season or, more likely, re-up him to two more 10-day contracts before deciding whether to offer him a guaranteed contract.
The Lakers opted not to re-sign Isaiah Thomas, Darren Collison, and Jemerrio Jones — each of whom was inked via hardship exception when the team had multiple players in health and safety protocols. With everybody now cleared, Johnson would put the Lakers at the maximum roster limit of 15 players.
Jordan and Bazemore both started opening night and for the first few weeks of the season. Bazemore has struggled from the jump and fell out of the rotation, while Jordan has become a constant DNP since the Lakers pivoted to small-ball. Of course, the Lakers can tap Dwight Howard — who put up 14 points and 14 rebounds in 22 minutes on Tuesday — when they need to use a traditional center.