The Los Angeles Lakers are focused on what they hope is a huge summer free agency haul, but they’ll have another big opportunity in front of them to tweak the roster as-needed soon with the trade deadline approaching on Feb. 8.
The Lakers were one of the teams — almost by ritual — that were in the mix for the big transactions that have shifted talent in the NBA over the last year. They were linked to both DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George, but wound up standing pat.
What will happen this time around, with the pressure squeezing even tighter with only a few months until they (presumably) hold meetings with star players? SB Nation NBA team blogs gathered up to put together a
Check them all out here, and proceed for the Lakers’ current road map.
1: With the trade deadline approaching do you consider your team to be a “buyer” or a “seller”?
The Lakers are sellers who may have to fight the temptation to be buyers. The front office has held out on breaking down their young talent thus far — aside from D’Angelo Russell, of course — and will have teams tempting them as the deadline draws closer.
They’ve made it this far, and barring the right trade coming along, the Lakers will likely stick to the principle that’s guided them to being just months away from having just enough space to make two big contract offers.
LA has two pieces they should feel highly compelled to sell, but whether they can find the right buyer remains in the air.
2: What are the top tradable assets on your team’s roster and/or what players are “untradeable”?
Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson are far and away the Lakers’ most “tradable” assets, in that the front office definitely wants to move them. Whether other teams in the league have interest in either of them — especially with Randle’s impending restricted free agency — is the big question.
Brandon Ingram was “untradeable” around last trade deadline, and he’s now arguably double the player he was at the time. Kyle Kuzma getting traded could actually incite a riot in Los Angeles, so we’ll consider him off the block as well. Lonzo Ball isn’t going anywhere, no matter how many times LaVar Ball riles up headlines.
3: What holes do you think your team would try and fill at the deadline?
The Lakers need a legitimate backup point guard, immediately, from a roster standpoint. The mix of Tyler Ennis and Alex Caruso is painful to watch, especially as Lonzo misses games with bumps and bruises deeper into the season.
What the front office is truly angling for, though, is salary cap space. It’s all fans, analysts and even the team have been talking about for months. The Lakers have space to make big offers, but they need to cut it down even further for two full maximum-level offers. That’s where trading Clarkson, Randle and additional financial fodder comes into play.
4: What’s your “dream trade”?
The dream trade is Luol Deng for LeBron James, but alas.
Something a bit more realistic here, especially with the Lakers having the objective of finding a home for Randle and cutting salary, points to nabbing Paul George ahead of free agency to finally land that star player. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, they say.
Lumping Clarkson and Randle together, and throwing in a Josh Hart sweetener who can be absorbed via the Victor Oladipo trade exception, might be the move:
That’s a price to pay for the Lakers, but is it checks off many boxes in their current situation.
Now, with less than a month to go, we wait and see how Magic and Pelinka play their hand.