Los Angles Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak says the front office is active as the trade deadline approaches. When comparing it to the last few years, he noted a very important distinction: They have stuff other teams might want.
The Lakers’ trade talks over the last few years have probably gone something like this:
Kupchak: Hi, I’d like to make a trade. We’re interested in (insert player/pick).
Other General Manager: Okay, what are you willing to give up?
MK: Anyone but D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson or Kobe Bryant.
MK: Are you there?
In order to have serious trade discussions, the roster needs to have enough talent that the GM could move a couple pieces another team might want and still have something left over when the acquired player arrives. Otherwise, gauging the entire roster to acquire someone like, say, DeMarcus Cousins would just make the Lakers the Kings south. And no one wants to be any version of the Kings.
So, when asked by the Los Angeles Times’ Tania Ganguli and Mike DiGiovanna asked Kupchak about the trade discussions the Lakers have had this year, he responded:
“We are active, yes. We’re active every year. … Quite frankly compared to the last three or four years, we have a lot of talent on this roster that I think a lot of people have interest in — varying levels of interest. I would think there’s more meaningful discussions this year than there have been the last two or three years.”
Another difference heading into this trade deadline is Magic Johnson’s looming input, though Kupchak wouldn’t comment on whatever effect Magic might have on their intentions.
It was also reported a couple days ago that Lou Williams was being shopped, which makes sense given the year he’s having at the rate he’s being paid.
Another player to keep an eye on is Timofey Mozgov, who’s been basically removed from the rotation as the Lakers focus on youth. His bloated contract has been mourned basically since before the ink dried and probably works against any chances he has of being moved to a team he might actually play for.
All that said, it will be interesting if Kupchak attaches a legitimate asset to the contract in an attempt to free up cap space this summer, the last offseason before the young core start signing their extensions. If the front office is somehow able to move that contract, they deserve not only to keep their jobs as Magic gets comfortable, but they should expect a Nobel Prize for economics in the mail.
The NBA Trade Deadline is a week from Thursday, February 23. Expect a busier rumor season than even normal for the Lakers, which might get pretty insane.