The trade front has been understandably quiet surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers over the last week as the team dealt with the tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash last week.
On his latest episode of “The Woj Pod,” Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN confirmed that the grief the whole organization was trying to process “sidetracked business” for the team, but also reported that they’ll be “re-engaged” in surveying their options to start the week.
As far as what that looks like, one option Wojnarowski discussed was the front office continuing to monitor where it’s at in the chase for Darren Collison:
”They’ve wanted a secondary playmaker. Whether they can find that in a trade, whether they wait for Darren Collison to say ‘I’m definitely coming back.’ ... I’m told that he’d absolutely like to play in L.A., either Lakers or Clippers, so you treat him a little bit like part of the buyout market, because I don’t think he’s going to be ready to do that until post All-Star game, or at least around All-Star break anyway. So that’s kind of in their back pocket, they can try to bring Collison out if there’s not a trade.”
At the very least, this confirms that the Lakers are still in the hunt for Collison, who they’ve been connected to by rumors since Jan. 1. Collison unexpectedly retired instead of choosing a team in free agency last summer, and at 31, he presumably still has a bit left in the tank. Reading between the lines of Wojnarowski’s latest report, him saying “I don’t think he’s going to be ready to do that until...” would seem to hint that Collison is still working his way back closer to NBA game shape, among other factors.
Collison isn’t necessarily a fix for everything that ails the Lakers, but he could almost undoubtedly help with the ballhandling issues they’ve faced whenever LeBron James sits.
Still, as the roster stands right now, L.A. would have to cut someone in order to make room for Collison, which given everything the team is going through may be a bit more callous of a choice than an organization that prides itself on being a family atmosphere — and raves about the chemistry of this specific group — may be willing to make while everyone grieves.
But ultimately the goal is to win a title. Maybe the Lakers could work with the league to find an avenue to cut DeMarcus Cousins while still allowing him to stay around the team and use their facilities to rehab, even if thus far they’ve expressed (seemingly misplaced) optimism he could play for them at some point late in the year. If they can do that, it potentially allows them to not break up this group while adding a player who could actually help this season.
Or maybe they just make an uneven trade, sending out more players than they bring in, thus opening up a roster spot, although there are the same human factors potentially stymying that choice as there are with cutting Cousins, or someone else.
Ultimately, how the Lakers ultimately get a roster spot for Collison is unknowable, as is whether he will even choose them over the Clippers. But it seems they are indeed still in the hunt, which makes the chase for him just one of several avenues to watch the team on as the 12:00 p.m. PST, Feb. 6 NBA trade deadline rapidly approaches.
Collison — and any other players — can be playoff eligible with any team they sign with as long as they join before the regular season ends and are waived before Mar. 1 by their prior team. The latter factor is not an issue for Collison, so both sides have plenty of time here.
You can keep track of every trade rumor involving the Lakers here, and for more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.