When the Los Angeles Lakers decided not to make a trade before the Feb. 6 NBA trade deadline, the overwhelming assumption was that they were going to try and improve their roster in the buyout market. While a handful of teams have been active in the buyout market in recent days, the Lakers haven’t been one of them, and it’s not because they don’t have room to improve.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t looking, though. In fact, during an appearance on ESPN LA 710’s “The Sedano Show” on Tuesday, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that the Lakers are waiting to see what happens with Moe Harkless, who was traded from the 37-18 LA Clippers to the 17-38 New York Knicks in the Marcus Morris deal earlier this month:
“Moe Harkless is a name I’ve heard they’re interested in and monitoring and still have an eye on.”
There’s been no indication from Harkless’ side that he wants a buyout from his hometown Knicks, but Marc Berman of the New York Post reported shortly after the trade was completed that New York would buy him out of his contract if he asked. Given the Lakers’ need for size on the wing, they’re hoping that contending for a championship means more to him than playing for his childhood team.
It would be inaccurate to call Harkless a “3-and-D” player considering he’s a 32.5% shooter from behind the arc for his career, but he’s capable of knocking them down from the corners. This season, he’s converted 40.4% on his 47 corner 3-point attempts. As for his defense, Harkless can guard positions 1-4 with a relatively slim, 6’8 frame, and a 7’2 wingspan. Upon arrival, he’d be the best backup for LeBron James that the Lakers have.
That’s not to say Harkless would automatically commit to the Lakers if he was bought out, but he’d play a big role in the team’s rotation and they can pay him handsomely with a $1.75 million disabled player exception. It’s hard to argue there’s a better fit for him. Hopefully Harkless and his agent realize that and force a buyout from the Knicks sooner rather than later.