Report: Don’t expect Lakers trade until after Thanksgiving
It’s just one game, but the Lakers’ poor shooting in their opening night loss to the Warriors (on the heels of struggling to knock down shots in the preseason) had some fans and pundits saying, “you know, about that trade with the Pacers...”
But don’t expect the Lakers to make any move until after Thanksgiving, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said on NBA Countdown.
“I’m told to expect Rob Pelinka and the Lakers to wait until post-Thanksgiving, 20 games into the season, and see what teams may start pivoting who don’t start off well, who decide that they may start to unload players and perhaps get involved in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes...
“There were so many buyers the last couple years, the expectation is there will be more sellers this year. You’ll start to see the asking price in trades go down. It’s supply and demand. So expect the Lakers really to get to that 20-game point where teams kind of reach an inflection point about how they want to proceed, and then see what might really be available to help improve this Lakers team.”
It’s rare for teams to make a major trade early in the season in any year, front offices generally want to wait and see exactly what they have and where they are in the standings before making a move. (The last big early-season trade was Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia in 2018, which only happened because Butler was disruptive in Minnesota.) Unless Pelinka and the Lakers wanted to reverse course and include both first-round picks they can trade (2027, 2029) in the Pacers deal, no trade was likely early in the season.
And the Wembanyama pivot is real. There are always teams that pivot to tanking at some point during the season, usually due to injury (think Portland last season when Damian Lillard had core surgery). This season the sense around the league is there will be more of those teams and they will pivot earlier. The smart play by the Lakers is to wait and see who becomes available.
The Lakers just can’t dig too deep a hole before those teams pivot. The Western Conference is 11 deep with teams thinking playoffs, there are a number of good teams that will win a lot of games, and if the Lakers are ninth or 10th in the conference come Thanksgiving it will be very difficult to climb above that status.
Los Angeles needs to win some games — and shoot better — before Thanksgiving or any plans to trade Russell Westbrook for a roster upgrade could prove too little, too late.