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Lakers vs. Clippers Preview: In flux

Two L.A. teams meet in a continued state of flux, but with potential of stability and overall improvement on the horizon.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

On Tuesday, the Lakers will be taking on their foes across the hallway in the Los Angeles Clippers.

Normally with a matchup around the corner between these two squads, fans of both teams become more focused on the said game when compared to the other games coming before or after. However, at least in terms of the Lakers fans’ perspectives, they’re much more interested in what’s going on internally and how that side of things seems to change each and every day (more on that later).

The most recent internal shift has come in the form of — wait for it — A TRADE!

Yes, that’s right. Rob Pelinka has finally done what basically every Lakers fan has been asking for since the summer. He’s traded a guard for a wing. Specifically, the Lakers traded Kendrick Nunn and three second round draft picks for Wizards’ young forward Rui Hachimura. Unfortunately, the trade wasn’t made official until late Monday afternoon, with the OC Register’s Kyle Goon indicating that the earliest Hachimura could play with the Lakers would likely be Wednesday’s game vs. the Spurs.

It’s only Nunn, however, this recent loss of a player is just the latest in a series of changing factors for the Lakers that underlie a common theme in this season as well as their previous season. Coincidentally, it also paints a decent picture of things for the Clippers in advance of their Tuesday night matchup.

Constantly Changing

Whatever you think about the Lakers and Clippers, it’s hard to deny that both teams have been in a near-constant state of flux since the end of the 2019-20 season.

The Clippers had to look in the mirror after one of the most embarrassing playoff collapses in recent memory when they lost to the Denver Nuggets after once being up 3-1 in the series. Since then, their superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have consistently been in and out (more out than in) of the lineup due to many injuries. That has not changed this season, as Leonard and George have only played in 24 and 33 of the Clippers’ 49 games, respectively.

However, the two have played together in the Clippers’ last two games — the first time they’ve done so since Dec. 31 — with their team winning each contest. The most recent of which was an impressive 112-98 victory in Dallas vs. the Mavericks.

I’m sure I don’t need to fill in the reader of this on what things have been changing with the Lakers since that 2019-20 championship season. Things haven’t settled down this season, as the team is in the midst (and hopefully near the end of) another Anthony Davis injury with a roster that has been obviously — and hilariously — imbalanced when it comes to the distribution of guards and wings up and down the list.

Hachimura should help, however, that’s for a different game preview. The fact of the matter is that the Lakers will not have him or Nunn (who’s played decently well as of late) for this game against the slowly rising Clippers.

Of course, the Clippers’ 2-game winning streak pales in comparison to the 11-game one belonging to the Grizzlies that the Lakers ruined recently. And any matchup surely isn’t more daunting than the successful comeback the Lakers had to mount in the second half of Sunday’s game vs. the Trail Blazers.

Those recent wins should give the Lakers enough belief within to try and steal yet another game from a favored opponent, no matter what instability continues to exist with them on the court or off it.

Notes and Updates

  • LeBron James is listed as questionable (left ankle soreness) on the injury report. It’s hard to draw any negative conclusions from this, as he’s been listed as questionable for some time now while usually ending up as active.
  • Rui Hachimura will indeed be out due to the timing of the trade. Joining him will be Anthony Davis (right foot stress injury), Austin Reaves (left hamstring strain), and Lonnie Walker IV (left knee tendinitis).
  • The following players will be out for the Clippers: John Wall (abdominal soreness), Luke Kennard (right calf soreness), Jason Preston (G-League assignment), Brandon Boston Jr. (G-League assignment), and Moses Brown (G-League - two-way).

The Lakers and Clippers will tip off at 7 p.m. PT. It will be exclusively shown on TNT.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Donny on Twitter at @donny_mchenry.

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