The 2022 NBA trade deadline is only six days away, and the Los Angeles Lakers will have until the afternoon of Feb. 10 to find a way to upgrade their roster for a late-season push towards the playoffs. As always, there are plenty of rumors involving the Lakers, but it’s uncertain right now which ones have any real chance of happening.
The team doesn’t have much in terms of tradeable assets, and no, it’s not looking likely that any team would take on Russell Westbrook and his contract, just as it is unlikely the Lakers would attach their 2027 first-round pick to a deal involving him.
Basically, the Lakers have Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, and that aforementioned pick to offer to teams. However, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer seems to indicate that the team is even trying to make some moves with some of their veteran’s minimum players, including DeAndre Jordan and Kent Bazemore.
This isn’t the first report of the Lakers trying to trade Jordan or Bazemore, however, Fischer did mention another name while on “The NBA Chats” podcast with host Alen Ramic. That name was Dwight Howard, as the team really seems to have committed to a small-ball style, and is putting both of their traditional centers on the trade block as a result:
“Listen, the Lakers are obviously not a great spot right now. And they’re looking. They’re trying. From DeAndre Jordan, to Dwight Howard, to the Kent Bazemores of the world, to trying to see what this Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and first-round pick package can get (they’re trying).
“I don’t know specific other frameworks that have been thrown out there, but the way it’s been described to me is they’ve just been calling teams and saying ‘hey, Talen Horton-Tucker, a first and Kendrick Nunn: What can that get us?’ I think that’s really where they’re at right now. I don’t think they’re going to use that to move Russ. That’s seemed unlikely all along. They’re using that pick as a way to upgrade, not as a way to get off Russ’ salary.”
The Lakers may have to make a small, less splashy move involving these veteran minimum players as Fischer also confirms that the THT, Nunn, and 2027 first-rounder package probably won’t be enough to acquire the Pistons’ Jerami Grant. This lines up with other recent reports indicating THT is seen as a “marginal asset” around the NBA.
It’s interesting to hear that Dwight Howard is now being discussed, as it’s seemed the team would keep him as a big they can have to back up Anthony Davis at the center position when they’re playing a team like the Nuggets or 76ers who have a traditional center playing 30+ minutes. But would the team really trade both of Howard and Jordan if it meant they could improve their small-ball style even more? Maybe. Would they ship out Howard and keep Jordan in that theorized back-up center role? Lord, let’s hope not.
Fischer goes on to hypothesize what the Lakers could get for these veteran minimum players, indicating that the Hornets, Raptors, and Bucks may be in the market for a big man of his talents:
“You can move Kent Bazemore, but how much are you really getting back? You can move DeAndre Jordan, but what are you really getting back? Like, could they move DeAndre or Dwight to Charlotte, who needs another big man, or Toronto, who needs another big man, or Milwaukee, who is looking for another big man? Sure. But what are they really getting back from those teams on another minimum salary that’s gonna dramatically move the needle for the Lakers? I don’t really know.”
The Raptors idea is interesting, as this is a team the Lakers had trade discussions with prior to the 2021 trade deadline. In those conversations, a trade package involving Kyle Lowry and Talen Horton-Tucker was discussed, with the Lakers' refusal to include THT reportedly being the reason the deal was never finalized.
That is relevant because the team has reportedly been looking at the Raptors’ Gary Trent Jr., who possibly could come back to the Lakers if they were to engage in a deal with the team. THT ($9.5 million annual salary), Nunn ($5 million), and Howard ($2.6 million) would be enough to get Trent Jr. ($16 million), but would the Raptors want that 2027 first-rounder in addition? And if they do, the Lakers may not want to attach a first-rounder for a caliber of player like Trent Jr., especially considering the fact that he’s on an expiring contract and could just walk away in the 2022 free agency period.
But either way, Fischer’s reporting illustrates a Lakers team that is desperate to get better. More names are being mentioned now, with Howard’s name making it five Lakers players that have been reported in trade rumors. We’ll see if anything actually materializes between now and next Thursday, but the noise is only going to get louder about all these guys until then.