The Lakers (18-37) are currently the third worst team in the NBA, but they are also only six and a half games out of the final spot in the playoffs. The next few months could prove to be crucial for the Lakers. They could either lose their draft pick if it falls out of the bottom three or they could trade away their veterans for future assets.
According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, the Lakers are favorably leaning toward trading away their veterans for the upcoming trade deadline in a few weeks.
“Despite head coach Luke Walton’s negative comments about tanking, executives believe the Lakers will strongly consider this route. If they do, other teams will certainly be calling about L.A.’s veterans.”
Trading away key veterans would not necessarily signal that the Lakers are willing to tank, but it would free up more playing time for their younger players. Recently, Luke Walton added more youth to the starting lineup by replacing Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov with Brandon Ingram and Tarik Black. Since the lineup change two games ago, Mozgov has not seen any minutes on the floor.
The Lakers have some key veterans that could have a decent impact on a contending team right away. If the Lakers could somehow find a way to trade someone like Lou Williams for a draft pick or a decent young player, it could prove to be mutually beneficial for both players. Williams could be on a solid playoff team, while the Lakers can allocate his minutes to D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson.
Deng and Mozgov might be tougher to move because of their contracts, but they do offer solid leadership and experience for contending teams.
It will be interesting to see if the Lakers can find any deals for their veterans. It has been a while since the Lakers made any moves before the trade deadline. The last in-season trade the Lakers made was in 2014 when they sent away Steve Blake for MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore. Hopefully, the Lakers can find a right deal that could bring future draft picks or a decent young player.