Despite a number of rumored potential deals and players linked to the Lakers in the days and weeks leading up to Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, L.A. didn’t make any moves.
Without valued assets to package together, the team lacked the flexibility to make very many deals, whether a blockbuster or around the fringes. They’ll now turn their attention to the buyout market, according to multiple reports.
I’m told not to expect any last minute deals for the Lakers. Despite several efforts, they were unable to get anything done before the deadline. This is their team.— Bill Oram (@billoram) February 10, 2022
No deal for the Lakers, source tells ESPN. THey'll focus on the buyout market.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 10, 2022
The Lakers will monitor the buyout market, sources told ESPN. With a full 15-man roster, would need to waive a player in order to add a player.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 10, 2022
A person who works for a rival team told me yesterday that the Lakers were in a tough spot because they had little to offer and teams weren’t especially eager to help them out. And that’s what played out at the deadline, despite the incredibly obvious need for a shakeup. https://t.co/MY4birSeaX— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) February 10, 2022
The obvious biggest name in rumors for the Lakers was Russell Westbrook, whose days in Los Angeles felt numbered after another benching against the Bucks earlier in the week. An insistence by the Lakers on not including their 2027 first round pick in a deal to offload Westbrook, though, meant no trade to dump his contract could be found.
Around the fringes, the Lakers’ underperforming role players on veteran’s minimum contracts could not generate enough interest around the league, either. The likes of DeAndre Jordan, Kent Bazemore and Dwight Howard had fallen out of the rotation to varying degrees this season, and the Lakers had sought to move them. But with all three being aging veterans, they lacked the appeal of younger players who may still have potential, and trades couldn’t be found for any of the three.
The Lakers also tried to shop the package of Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and that aforementioned first-round pick around the league as well for an upgrade, but Horton-Tucker’s lackluster season and Nunn being unable to get on the court due to injury meant that package also had very little value to other teams.
That isn’t to say the Lakers weren’t attempting to make a deal at the deadline. The Houston Rockets seemed the most likely — and potentially only — team willing to even discuss taking on Westbrook’s contract, and only because of their own situation with John Wall. The negotiations between the two sides centered on what else would be included around Westbrook and Wall, including the Lakers 2027 pick and potentially Horton-Tucker and other players from the Rockets.
If Houston had their way, Daniel Theis would have been included in the deal as a cost-cutting measure for them. According to Brian Windhorst on ESPN, another, more appealing name for the Lakers may have also been discussed.
According to Windhorst, there potentially was a deal discussed with the Rockets involving Westbrook, THT and a 2027 first for John Wall and Christian Wood pic.twitter.com/iLp2xYfa9u— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) February 10, 2022
Without any form of certainty and basing it off the previous reports on the situation, it seems plausible, if not likely, that the Rockets wanted the Lakers to take back Theis, the Lakers came back by asking for Christian Wood instead, and the deal never got much further.
Obviously, the details of the negotiations will likely never be fully public, but even for all the faults the Lakers front office has and the failed gambles in the last year, it’s really hard to imagine they were the ones that turned down this trade offer. It’s much more likely they were the ones that offered it, and it’s not that surprising the Rockets decided to do different deals instead.
The Rockets weren’t the only team rumored to be in talks with the Lakers. One of the only teams who can relate to the disappointment and turmoil the Lakers are suffering through is the Knicks. Also in need of a shake-up, it would have made sense for the two parties to at least swap players and hope that changes in scenery would lead to improvements.
That certainly may have been the case, as Windhorst also reported that the two sides had a deal fall apart that on Wednesday.
Brian Windhorst says a Knicks/Lakers deal fell apart— Alex (@dbs408) February 10, 2022
Cam Reddish seems most likely to be the player/deal being referenced here. Prior to him being traded to New York, the Lakers reportedly offered a pair of second round picks for Cam Reddish to the Hawks. On Wednesday, the Lakers were reportedly in “aggressive” pursuit of Reddish via a three-team deal that obviously didn’t manifest, either.
If the Lakers were looking to package some second round picks and some of the aforementioned veterans for Reddish to potentially open up a roster spot as well, it would make sense with a number of previous reports. Ultimately, neither the Lakers nor the Knicks made a move on Thursday, with both deciding to sit in the messes they’ve made and stand pat at the trade deadline.
Bill Oram of The Athletic added a handful of other names to the list of players the Lakers targeted but did not acquire, including Toronto’s Khem Birch and Chris Boucher, while corroborating the reports on Reddish as well. The running theme in Oram’s piece was the lack of compensation the Lakers had to sweeten deals.
Most importantly, or dramatically, was Oram’s report that the Lakers flirted with the idea of re-acquiring Dennis Schröder as well, who famously was left out to dry by the Lakers and much of the league this offseason. Schroder was eventually dealt to the Rockets, though a buyout from Houston could be possible.
But just because the Lakers stayed still at the deadline doesn’t mean they are finished making moves this season. They’ll almost certainly be active in the buyout market, an area that has been hit (Markieff Morris) and miss (Andre Drummond) in recent seasons for the team.
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