The Lakers still stink. As a result, most of the conversation surrounding them is — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — if they should use their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks to improve the team, or if this 2-8 mess is hopeless.
Let’s take a look at the most recent rumors swirling around the team.
The Lakers aren’t going to trade their future firsts if the season keeps slipping away
According to the latest reporting from Shams Charania of The Athletic, it sounds like the team is still not planning to make a deal with those picks if it doesn’t make them a contender, especially not when this current group has so thoroughly underwhelmed:
“I’m told the organization will be prudent with their two first round picks available the rest of the decade... As of right now, the organization seems to be moving in a direction where they’re going to resist moving first round picks if the season continues to go down this path. For Lakers fans who were clamoring for a Buddy Hield, Myles Turner move where you’re giving up two first round picks, you’re giving up multiple seconds, firsts… I don’t think, where we see this Lakers team, it’s not prudent for them to do that.”
Shams says the Lakers will resist trading first-round picks if the season continues to go down this path. pic.twitter.com/eEscEY8JXd— pickuphoop (@pickuphoop) November 8, 2022
If that is the front office’s argument, one could argue that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to not just blow this thing up and stop wasting everyone’s time — or even that the person who put together a roster shouldn’t have been extended for four years before they played a game, but I digress.
Still, we also know that’s not how the Lakers generally operate with stars, who they see as partners and try to treat as well as they can so other stars will come in the future. And, according to another report, they may also be waiting because they have someone specific in mind.
Other execs think L.A. is waiting on a trade for a mystery star
On the latest episode of Sports Illustrated’s “The Crossover NBA Show,” national NBA reporter and friend of the blog Howard Beck reported that he’s heard from other executives around the league that the Lakers may have a super-duper top-secret possible star in mind to use the Westbrook contract and picks to acquire (emphasis mine):
Beck: “I will add one thing without going into all the detail, but I was canvassing a bunch of front office folks last week when I was workshopping my idea of ‘Can the Nets tear down now? Should they just tear down now? What could they reasonably get for Kevin Durant? Could they get anything for Kyrie Irving? Could they get anything at all for Ben Simmons?’ And in those discussions, when I brought up the Lakers, the pushback I was getting was they’re waiting for a specific player. That they’re not doing the Pacer deal, that they won’t do the Kyrie deal now that we for sure thought they would do a couple months ago, is an indication that the Lakers are waiting for a bigger piece to come loose that they think they can trade Westbrook and the two future firsts for.”
Chris Mannix: “Who do you think that is? I don’t know who that is.”
Beck: “I’ll tell you offline.”
Mannix: “Put it this way: I don’t know that the player, whoever that is that the Lakers may be targeting, would be acquirable for what they’re willing to give up.”
Beck: “I don’t think so either, by the way. I don’t think a Westbrook at this stage of his career plus two future firsts equals a difference-maker at that level, someone who is going to make you a contender.”
Beck may not be willing to issue such speculation publicly because he has a reputation to uphold, but I have no such respectability to sully, so let’s guess wildly about which possible future disgruntled star Rob Pelinka, Kurt Rambis and Co. could be waiting on.
Could it be Damian Lillard, who the Lakers have been linked to and tried to recruit for years?
Or maybe Bradley Beal, who the Wizards will surely try to move as they commit to rebuilding eventually?
Maybe DeMar DeRozan — who has shown no shortage of enthusiasm for joining his hometown team — if the Bulls decide to blow it up?
Kevin Dur-... just kidding, even I’m not that unrealistic.
Another star I’m not thinking of?
It sounds like we may not know for a while — or at least not until Beck decides to spill the beans — but if there is one thing these two reports make clear, it’s that there seems to be a sense around the league (and potentially internally) that this year is a lost cause.
But hey, at least the Lakers will have the stability of Rob Pelinka operating without feeling like he’s GMing for his job as he tries to fix
the mess he made the situation that earned him an extension before he even made any roster moves.
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.