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Why you shouldn’t expect the Lakers to make any trades this season

The Lakers are mostly stuck with what they have right now, but that could be a good thing.

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers-Media Day Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Iguodala is very much available, but, as we outlined previously, the Los Angeles Lakers are almost definitely on the outside looking in at the other teams considering trading for the former finals MVP. That’s going to be the case with the rest of the trade market this season, too, especially before mid-December.

The reason for the Lakers rosters’ collective lack of tradability all starts with the trade package that went out in the Anthony Davis trade.

Look, when you acquire one of the most talented players in league history as he enters his prime, you have to get ready to give up an insane haul of young players, picks and kitchen sinks. So that’s what the Lakers did. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart are in New Orleans — as are the Lakers’ first-round draft picks in 2021 (top-eight protected and unprotected in 2022 should it not convey) and 2024 plus pick swaps in ‘23 and ‘25. Lakers legend De’Andre Hunter is in Atlanta. Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga are in DC.

That leaves the Lakers with Kyle Kuzma (currently injured) and their own first-rounder this year, a 2022 first-rounder (as that 2021 first will almost certainly convey), and Talen Horton-Tucker as their current assets netted via the draft.

Because of the Stepien rule, teams can’t trade their first-round picks in back-to-back seasons. So the Lakers can’t safely include a first in a pre-draft trade until the after this next presidential term. Now, they can draft a player and then trade him on draft night, but that obviously doesn’t help them during this season.

So again, right now, the only trade assets the Lakers currently own are Kuzma, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Jared Dudley and Troy Daniels — because Dudley and Daniels are on league minimum deals. And since James and Davis obviously aren’t going anywhere, so, yeah. They just don’t have anything to offer, especially as it pertains to matching contracts.

On December 15, however, all the contracts the Lakers signed this summer become eligible to be traded. But even there, the Lakers are hoping that everyone they signed will be important parts of their rotation. So either they’ll be moving a useful player or two in the hopes of consolidating their talent with a better individual player, or they’ll be selling low after someone they signed hadn’t worked out.

Oh, and because Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and JaVale McGee re-signed on 1+1 deals, they all hold implicit no-trade clauses, as getting traded would cost them their early bird rights. So even if the Lakers wanted to trade them, they would have to approve of their destination.

Given the aforementioned limitations on young players or draft capital, even if the Lakers combine a couple of their newer contracts, it’ll be in a money dump from another team that forces them to take on long-term money — something they’ve been altogether reluctant to do in recent years, a trend that will likely continue given their 2021 free agency dreams.

Basically, in order for the Lakers to make a deal this season, they’ll have to convince another team to trade away a good player on a short-ish contract for nothing much more than financial flexibility. They’d also be hoping not to trade away too important a part of their rotation in the process, nor limit their own financial flexibility, either.

Thaaaaat’s.... a pretty tight window.

And hey, who knows! Maybe such a scenario arises and they find that perfect deal. Weirder stuff has happened. But it’s hard to predict the perfect storm, and given everything outlined above, that’s what a positive trade would be this season.

Now, this is an exponentially better group than they had last season. Adding Davis will do that for you, so maybe they won’t need a trade. But buyout market notwithstanding, this is the roster they have to make work. Maybe there’s value in players knowing this, as they’ve almost certainly figured this out, too. From a chemistry standpoint, there just might be value in knowing this is the group you’ll be with from start to finish.

It’s just that if this roster isn’t quite right, there isn’t much the front office can do, outside of hoping the right player becomes available as guys start getting bought out.

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