With Anthony Davis sidelined for an undetermined amount of time and the Lakers stringing together losses, the focus on the team’s activity in the trade market is at a fever pitch. The Lakers can either make a potentially ill-fated attempt to save the season with an all-in trade or effectively toss in the towel on the season by not making a move.
Unfortunately, there appears to be little consensus in the message being sent out by the front office, leading to conflicting reports and rumors in today’s headlines.
Maintaining status quo
The prevailing line of thought appears to be that the Lakers aren’t going to change their approach to the trade market after AD’s injury. That isn’t necessarily good news as the Lakers were being quite
cowardly patient when it came to making a deal.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, who has been one of the most reliable sources when it comes to Klutch Sports and the Lakers, on the latest episode of That’s OD, the Lakers aren’t changing their mindset when it comes to trades.
“The overall tenor and thought process is the same as it was going into the year which is ‘We’re going to evaluate the trade market and find a way or ways to get better.’ And that remains the case. In some sense, if through this period of discovery, they figure out Anthony Davis is going to miss a significant period of time to the point they’re going to have to think about life without him for the rest of this season, it kind of gives them an out to not bet the farm on this season, to not use both picks, which could actually help them in trade talks because, as it was, as we were going into this season, we started LeBron and AD look like two very effective guys and everyone was very aware of LeBron James’ timeline...Any team the Lakers would deal with would know that the Lakers virtually have to make a move and so they have that in their back pocket when it comes to negotiations and they can leverage that.”
Based on the most recent update on AD’s injury status, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the Lakers are waiting. For now, there is no clarity on Davis’ injury, and it’s possible he could be back in the coming weeks. It’s hard to imagine that the Lakers make any big moves until they know the long-term status of AD.
However, that being said...
Pulling back the reigns
Not every report indicates that the Lakers’ mindset hasn’t changed yet, though. Even if the first update on AD’s injury wasn’t worst case scenario, it still didn’t feel like a good update and the possibility remains he could be out for an extended period.
According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the Lakers are getting cold feet about doing a deal as the losses have begun racking up.
Reinforcements via trade would obviously help, and the Lakers are still evaluating their options on a dormant trade market. At the same time, it becomes increasingly challenging to justify trading a first-round pick if the group continues to struggle. The front office doesn’t want to compound its previous mistakes with more win-now moves.
The argument is pretty easy to make that the reason this team is losing games is because of the construction of the team in the first place, but the Lakers have decided not to compound the mistake by giving up further assets for a team that is so far from contention that only a couple of trades in-season can’t fix them.
It’s a fair argument to make in a vacuum. Considering how the last two seasons have gone, though, it’s a decision that isn’t going to be taken well by fans and it probably shouldn’t.
Easily the most annoying and frustrating part about all of this is it felt like the Lakers were in fact potentially a move or two away from competing near the top of the Western Conference or even the league as a whole. That was due in large part to how fantastic AD was playing as he was in the midst of a career year.
In the same That’s OD podcast as the report above, McMenamin noted frustration in the Lakers front office because of the timing of AD’s injury.
“It’s wild. It’s such a compacted Western Conference right now which makes the Lakers situation all that more frustrating for those involved — the decision-makers for the Lakers — because they recognized that they were maybe a small piece away from making a legitimate, legitimate run, getting back into fifth or sixth place with an extended period of good basketball.”
It’s also the nature of the injury that is frustrating. It was a completely innocuous play that didn’t even look risky or dangerous that led to a potential long-term injury. And that these types of injuries keep happening to AD — ones that feel like freak incidences — are a continual gut-punch.
It’s just a frustrating scenario the Lakers are in, most of it self-inflicted, and one that feels like deja vu all over again.