The Los Angeles Lakers have had an outstanding start to the season, sprinting out to a Western Conference-best 34-8 record. LeBron James has shown his doubters that he is nowhere near the end of his career and is still arguably the best player in the NBA. Anthony Davis has dealt with a few injuries but is showcasing his MVP type of talent for the biggest market in the NBA.
Outside of the two superstars, the Lakers have gotten some promising performances from role players, but question marks remain.
Kyle Kuzma has struggled this season, sporting a career-low 53.6 true shooting percentage and a career-low 13.2 points per game. Kuzma hasn’t improved on the defensive side of the ball or in terms of playmaking, and he has seen his 3-point shooting dip from 36 percent to 34 percent. Injuries have had an impact, but Kuzma’s struggles to fit alongside LeBron and AD have caused the Lakers to start listening to trade offers for their third-year player.
Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee have provided stability at the center position, providing rebounding and interior defense. Howard’s resurgence as a key bench cog has been especially notable. Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope play their roles as 3-and-D players.
However, outside of James and Davis, the Lakers still lack any kind of shot creation or playmaking in the pick-and-roll. Rajon Rondo still has his moments but is hit or miss, while fan favorite Alex Caruso is a limited player despite some of the good things he brings to the table. Avery Bradley, Quinn Cook and Troy Daniels aren’t high-level playmakers in the slightest.
James may still be playing at an absurdly high level and Davis still looks like a top-five player, but one is 35 years old and the other has injury concerns. In order to win a championship, the Lakers need to make a trade for another player with the capability to take some of the load off James and Davis.
Derrick Rose is that player.
Rose is currently enjoying a fantastic season for the Detroit Pistons. In only 25.8 minutes per game in mostly a bench role, Rose is averaging 18.3 points, 5.9 assists, and 2.4 rebounds. Rose is shooting a career-high 50.3 percent from the field and boasting a career-high 56.9 true shooting percentage. The Pistons decided to start Rose the last two games, and he averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 assists, and 2.0 rebounds while shooting 76.7 percent from the field.
However, the Pistons as a team have been underwhelming, to say the least. Injuries to Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson, and Luke Kennard have the Pistons sitting in the ninth seed with a record of 16-27. Andre Drummond has been involved in trade rumors and seems very likely on the way out. Essentially, it sounds like the Pistons will be sellers at the trade deadline with their season spiraling out of control, even despite a couple nice recent wins.
This means the Pistons will certainly be listening to trade offers for players who can help winning teams elsewhere, such as Rose.
Rose is having his best season since 2012 and would help the Lakers immediately upon arrival. Rose has played with James before in Cleveland back in 2018, but Rose was very clearly not the player he is right now. Any worries about whether Rose would fit with James should be thrown out the window, as Rose would allow James to take a backseat when needing to take a rest.
With the Lakers already listening for trade offers for Kuzma, maybe a deal centered around the Flint product and a first-round pick would get the Pistons to bite on trading the former MVP. It has been reported the Pistons are not as interested in trading Rose as it may seem and reportedly may only trade him if he asks to be moved, but as they lose more games and it gets closer to the deadline, Detroit should get more willing.
Packaging a young player and a pick would certainly catch Detroit’s attention, but the question is if the Lakers would be willing to include an asset in a Kuzma trade when they clearly value him. With the urgency on winning now for the Lakers and the clear upgrade Rose would be over Rondo and others in the backcourt, Los Angeles might just be willing to part ways with these future assets to win a championship this season.