All season long, the reporting around what the Los Angeles Lakers will do on the trade market has been fairly consistent: The team is only willing to move both its tradeable first-round picks if the deal makes them a contender, which is a bar most of the options that have been rumored feel unlikely to clear. That is only more true now that a combination of the front office’s continuous kicking of the can down the road, a roster constructed for a trade that never happened and injuries have led to a 14-21 record for the purple and gold.
Even recently, in the wake of Anthony Davis’ injury, local scoopsters Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Jovan Buha of The Athletic have both said that the team’s thinking hasn’t changed much on trades, and that they don’t want to make their issues worse by trying to salvage what could be a lost season. Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times joined that chorus of beat reporters on Wednesday night after the team’s loss in Miami, writing that the Lakers really, really, seriously may just ride out this year:
Internally, sources said, there’s been serious consideration given to riding out the season without making a major deal if they can’t find one that would make the team a realistic contender.
Again, the caveat here is that maybe this is just the team trying to leak their way into not appearing to be desperate, but it also isn’t that hard to believe these reports could be true.
For one, the Lakers front office and ownership group has operated more like a group of sycophants interested in retaining current power structures, deflecting blame and pointing the finger at others, rather than people who want to win more basketball games, for approximately a year now. Them deciding to, essentially, continue to do the same would not be a huge surprise at this point. If you’re trying to keep your job and your power, it’s better to convince ownership that this is all the fault of those dastardly superstars who forced you to ruin your beautiful basketball vision, and that you need a few more years to undo their mistakes than it is to risk your own neck selling a deal that may not win you a title and could cost future assets that make you look bad later.
Lakers are bad: Well a trade wouldn’t make sense now— GoldenKnight (@GoldenKnightGFX) December 29, 2022
Lakers winning with AD playing like the best in the world: Glad y’all are doing well but we think a trade wouldn’t make sense now
A trade was never happening
And maybe that’s even the right decision! Maybe this isn’t fixable with a trade. At this point, that seems more likely than not, given that we still don’t even know when Anthony Davis will be back and this team hardly seems capable of winning with any consistency without him.
But if that’s true, whoever is calling the shots here had better be ready to hit the ball out of the park with the cap space and draft picks they’re desperately clinging to for this summer. Otherwise, there will be a whole lot more questions to be asked about what exactly the Lakers are doing here, at this point intentionally tanking without draft picks and wasting years of their two superstars’ careers.
If they don’t want to make this worse, fine. But at some point, maybe they should also try making it better.