The Lakers’ hesitance to make a big trade this season has come about for a variety of reasons, some fairer than others. The most prominent one seems to be that the front office did not want to go all-in on a team they weren’t convinced could be a winner, hence the various deadlines and benchmark moments throughout the early stages of the season.
What that timespan allowed the Lakers to see, particularly in recent weeks, is that this team can compete and that’s largely because of how well Anthony Davis has played. This Lakers team was always going to rely heavily on LeBron James and AD and, after a rough start, the pair have stepped up to the challenge.
The result is a front office convinced that this team can be a winner and prepared to make a move. After Anthony Davis’ strong week and overall play this year, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report writes are more convinced to make a trade now (emphasis mine).
Up until recently, the front office was close to letting this year’s Lakers die on the vine. Rather than ship out Russell Westbrook and one or both of their available future first-round picks (2027 and 2029) to bolster a lost cause, the Lakers seemed resigned to waiting to shop for bigger upgrades around the 2023 draft and free agency. Los Angeles has preserved roughly $30-35 million in cap space for this upcoming summer.
But this recent surge makes a trade more likely than the alternative. Going for it this season is more of an option with Davis playing this well, picks and future cap space be damned.
At this point, no matter what the reasoning is, the Lakers should be looking to make a trade. Whether it’s dealing Russell Westbrook or the path that is seemingly becoming more attractive in parting with a package of Kendrick Nunn and Patrick Beverley, improvements should be made to the roster to give this team a fighting chance.
There’s already enough concern about wasting a year of LeBron James at this stage in his career. But wasting a year of AD playing at this level on top of that would be front office malpractice.
For now, considering how close they are to the date now, it makes sense to wait until Dec. 15 when more plays become trade eligible. But given how much the Western Conference feels up for grabs in the moment, the quicker the Lakers make a trade, the quicker they could move up the standings and take advantage of the situation.
It will require the Lakers to be proactive in the coming weeks but after sitting back and remaining inactive for so long to start this year, they should be in a position ready to pounce by now.