If you’ve read anything I’ve written this season, heard even 30 seconds of any podcast I’ve hosted, followed me for even a few minutes on Twitter or even just walked by me in a grocery store, you probably know how desperate the Lakers are for any wings whatsoever. Due to one helluva series of Friday news dumps, the Lakers somehow are even worse off at that position we ever could’ve imagined and are looking for answers for at least the next couple weeks.
First and foremost, much of the solution is going to have to come from within. With Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV joining Anthony Davis on the injured list for the next couple weeks (and Troy Brown Jr. missing at least Friday night), the Lakers just don’t have enough time to go out and get much help. So Max Christie, Juan Toscano Anderson, maybe Cole Swider and obviously LeBron James are going to have to fill in at small forward.
For at least Friday night, depending on the reported deal between the Lakers and Sterling Brown is formally announced, the Lakers are going to have to just make do. Even more unfortunate is the timing, as the Lakers also play Saturday night and don’t have consecutive days off until January 28, but again, this is just the reality of the situation and they have to remain afloat if they want to convince the front office to even try to save this season.
In the coming days and/or weeks, though, the Lakers are going to need more help. Brown is certainly a step in the right direction and fills in pretty naturally for Troy. He’ll have to shoot better than he did for Dallas last season but he’s at least one of the archetypes the Lakers need to make up for.
(Quick tangent: I am legitimately still a little worried the Lakers haven’t announced Brown as of my writing this piece because Dallas waived Kemba Walker and he’s absolutely the kind of player Rob Pelinka can’t help himself with. Come on, Lakers. Let’s put pen to paper already.)
Beyond Brown, though, the Pelinka is going to have to get creative to even have a hope at getting through these next couple weeks. Tough part is: They don’t have an open roster spot to cycle through more 10-day contracts. The first official trade of this season does offer up an example to follow, though, if the Lakers want to make room without costing them money next season.
Here’s where I type out the most difficult sentence of my career...
I think it’s time to move on from Damian Jones.
I know, I know. He had the great 10-day contract in the history of contracts last season and I openly wept when the Lakers signed him last summer, but it’s time. They haven’t been able to recreate those glorious 10 days this year and he’s been permanently fastened to the bench even while the Lakers have routinely been outsized by almost everyone they’ve played.
Jones does have a player option for next year, though, so if the Lakers choose to waive him, they’d have dead money on their books next year. He’s making slightly more than the minimum next season so it wouldn’t be very much unused money but we know how Jeanie Buss feels about employees getting paid to stay home.
Just recently, as Noah Vonleh’s contract was about to guarantee, the Boston Celtics sent him and cash to San Antonio, who then promptly waived him (and Gorgui Dieng to make room for Vonleh). The Lakers could make a similar move to open up another roster spot and bring in someone at a position need or who might, you know, play.
Ideally, the Lakers would make a more impactful move that offers more than these temporary fixes but as we’ve learned since last trade deadline, we should not hold our collective breaths for that.
This week on “The Hook,” Aaron Larsuel and I go over these scenarios, look ahead to how long the Lakers will have to make all this work and more.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.