Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Should Lakers just stand pat at trade deadline, wait for offseason?

NBA: MAR 05 Warriors at Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 05: Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook #0 stands over Lakers logo during the Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers game on Match 05, 2022, at Arena in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What’s the first rule for getting out of a hole? Stop digging.

The Lakers are in a 14-21 hole, having dropped five-of-six without Anthony Davis, who is expected to be out at least a couple more weeks (and maybe longer) with a foot injury. LeBron James is understandably frustrated, but heading into the Feb. 9 trade deadline the only moves available to the Lakers are half-measures that make them a little better this season — maybe a playoff team — but not near a contender.

So maybe the best move is to do nothing. Stop digging. Or in this case, giving up future trade assets. From Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times:

Internally, sources said, there’s been serious consideration given to riding out the season without making a major deal if they can’t find one that would make the team a realistic contender.

No player on the trade market could make the Lakers a contender (even if there was, we could debate if the Lakers have the players and picks needed to get in that conversation). The best players currently available — John Collins from Atlanta, Jae Crowder from the Suns, maybe Kyle Kuzma from the Wizards or Bojan Bogdanovic from the Pistons — would make the Lakers better, but not contenders. And at what cost? A first-round pick in 2027 and contracts that eat up the Lakers’ cap space next summer.

Stop digging. Don’t throw good money after bad.

It would be different if a potential franchise-changing player were available, but they are not right now. Maybe over the summer a Bradley Beal or Zach LaVine will be made available — maybe, but not necessarily likely — or maybe a free agent like Kyrie Irving wants to come to Los Angeles. That’s the level of move the Lakers need to be looking at to build a potential winner around LeBron and Davis, and it’s not available at the deadline. Russell Westbrook’s $47.1 million contract is untradable without attaching a lot of sweeteners to the deal (besides, he’s been solid as a sixth man, so the Lakers are going just to ride out the final year of the deal).

If the Lakers do make a move, it likely is a smaller deal involving some combination of Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn and a second-round pick. Maybe they can get another contributing role player out of that, but not a game changer.

Meanwhile, LeBron sounds like someone hinting at leaving (even if he has another guaranteed year on his contract).

“I think about how much longer I’m gonna play the game. I think about how I don’t want to finish my career playing at this level, from a team aspect,” LeBron said after the Lakers lost to the Heat this week. “I want to still be able to compete for championships because I know what I can bring to any ball club with the right pieces.”

The Lakers need to get those pieces. Does LeBron trust the Rob Pelinka-led front office to have the vision, player evaluation skills, and execution level to get that done? It’s going to be an interesting 2023 summer for the Lakers.

But maybe not a very interesting trade deadline.