The NBA Trade deadline may have officially kicked into gear on Tuesday morning with the reported trade that would send CJ McCollum to the Pelicans for a package highlighted by former Laker Josh Hart and draft picks. That deal could serve as the green light for the rest of the league over the next 48-plus hours before Thursday’s deadline, the Lakers included.
Aside from sporadic repeats of trade rumors and Myles Turner’s thirsty soul practically begging for a trade to the Lakers, the rumors have remained rather quiet when it comes to the purple and gold, though that has begun to change with the latest pair of rumors.
A semi-serviceable wing?
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, “the Lakers are the latest team to have been linked to Boston’s efforts to trade Josh Richardson.” He’s not the only one connecting the two sides, as Brian Robb of MassLive also reported a specific package that
Boston is trying to put out there for teams to outbid while using the Lakers name for leverage is said to have been discussed.
New: League sources tell MassLive that the Lakers and Jazz are showing trade interest in Josh Richardson with Talen Horton-Tucker + pick being offered as part of a LA package. More: https://t.co/mpRGy95iUv— Brian Robb (@BrianTRobb) February 8, 2022
It’s hard to imagine anyone offering a package involving a first-round pick for Richardson this season, which should give a sense into who (it’s the Celtics) may be leaking this report. Richardson is averaging just 9.9 points per game, and while he’s shooting 40% from the 3-point line to satisfy the first part of being a 3-and-D wing, the latter is still a work in progress. This season, the Celtics are almost three points better defensively per 100 possessions with Richardson off the court.
Add in the fact that Richardson is an expiring contract, and it’s nigh impossible to see any team, Lakers included, surrendering a first-round pick for him. That isn’t to say he wouldn’t be a valuable piece for the Lakers and other contenders, but just not at that price.
Another underlying issue for any Richardson trade as well is going to be his vaccination status. Richardson has only played in 43 games this season partly because of consecutive stints in health and safety protocols in December. He has refused to discuss his vaccination status — a pretty good indicator of his vaccination status — and the Lakers have place a clear priority on their roster being fully vaccinated, hence everyone on the roster having received the vaccine entering the season.
It would make sense for the Lakers to target players like Richardson, given his 3-point shooting and size, both of which the Lakers need. But including their only tradeable first-round pick in the deal would be nonsense, which is why it feels this leak is coming from one specific, green-colored side of the table.
A new backup center
Matt Moore of The Action Network reported on Silver Screen and Roll’s “The Anthony Irwin Show” that the Lakers are looking for a new backup center:
Irwin: What’s your prediction on what the Lakers do here in the next few days?
Moore: “I have heard from multiple people that they’re shopping for a 5... But I’ll say this: Everyone is looking for a 5. I have 8 teams that are actively looking for a backup center, including teams that have a starting center that they’re also looking to trade. Like the Spurs are literally out there like ‘hey, you got a backup center?’ and (other teams) are like ‘don’t you have Jakob Poetl?’ And they’re like ‘oh, we’re looking to move him.’ So it’s weird.
“So I think the biggest thing is they (the Lakers) make a small move on the peripheries, on the edges. Whether it’s a backup center or another wing. Some sort of small move and then hope for the buyout market... I’ll say that THT will be somewhere else and then they’ll make a small move and then just be like ‘here you go, let’s make the best of this.’ And figure it out from there.”
While everyone being in the market for backup centers will drive up the price of the legitimately viable ones — perhaps out of the range of the asset-strapped Lakers — it could still lead to trades. In a market where lots of bigs are available with teams looking for upgrades, changes of scenery could still lead to productive moves.
The Lakers have been shopping both Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan, looking for any sort of upgrade in the front court. As the season has progressed, the two Lakers centers have, at times, completely fallen out of the rotation despite the team only having one viable center without them in Anthony Davis. And even then, the pairing often didn’t play when he was injured as well.
Perhaps swapping them out with another backup center on the market could provide the Lakers with a fresh face, fresh legs and a bit of a boost in the second half of the season, even if ultimately it doesn’t fix much in the long-term. But considering the state of the Lakers’ roster, record and the trade market, any sort of boost would be welcome for the team right now.
To keep up with all the latest reports before the deadline, check out our 2022 Lakers trade rumors tracker. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.