Lakers Mailbag: Will LA make a move at the NBA trade deadline?

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With the All-Star Game behind us and the NBA trade deadline just days away, the rumor mill is spinning away at a rapid pace.

The Los Angeles Lakers have been in the mix for many of those rumors with guard Lou Williams a prime candidate for a playoff team to grab.

We know that the Lakers and Kings already had discussions surrounding DeMarcus Cousins before he was dealt in a blockbuster to New Orleans.

With all that in mind, we turn to your questions to hopefully figure out what the Lakers might do at the trade deadline.

To answer the first part of that question, I think the list of players who are both tradable and desirable is short. In order,

  1. Lou Williams
  2. Tarik Black
  3. Nick Young

I’ll dive more into Lou Williams in a moment, but he’s had the bulk of the trade discussion surrounding him. Neither Black nor Young have had much talk going so far.

Black is an energy big man who is on an affordable contract that is non-guaranteed next season, making it a low-risk, high-reward situation. If he plays bad, you cut him. If he plays good, you have a very affordable backup big man next season.

Nick Young, however, is a half-year rental, essentially. Young has a player option, but given that his current contract is now suddenly a bargain given his play, it’s likely he opts out this summer for a bigger deal. Still, he’s one of the top three-point shooters in the league and could be a huge spark off the bench for a playoff team and would likely come at a very low price.

When talking about what type of package you could get for Randle, it’s hard to gauge. Hundreds of thousands of fans can value Randle in a variety of ways, but it comes down to how 29 other general managers value him. As we saw with the Boogie trade, the way fans value players and situations is not the way all GMs do.

That being said, Randle has proven to be a very solid player and is in the midst of a sort-of breakout year. While he’s played like a young player at times (because he is one), he’s also shown some flashes of greatness. While I still rank him lower than Brandon Ingram or D’Angelo Russell, I’d have to be blown away by a player to deal Randle for him. And given how the Lakers stood pat in the Boogie trade discussions, I don’t imagine he’ll be dealt.

Which brings us back to Lou Will. Williams is having a career year, is on an incredibly affordable deal that lasts through 2017-18 and is more than willing to come off the bench.

He’s the perfect trade asset!

The Lakers absolutely must deal Williams. I don’t normally deal in absolutes with the Lakers because many things are flexible, but it’s an absolute in this scenario. At 30 years old, Williams is not on the same timeline as the young Lakers core. He won’t even be under contract the next time the Lakers are a good team. Retaining him makes little to no sense.

The only specifically-rumored destination for Williams so far is the Washington Wizards, who are absolutely rolling of late and looking for bench help.

There’s a handful of ways a deal with them could shake out. The most likely outcome is that they deal the Lakers a first-round pick, which currently would fall in the early to mid-20s.

If the Lakers are more interested in players, the best asset they could get back would be someone like Kelly Oubre. However, with an already thin and underperforming bench, it’s unlikely the Wizards will want to take players away from it, especially someone as young and versatile as he.

In any deal for Young or Black, you’re looking at minimal returns, most likely. Those deals are likely done more with the idea of freeing up playing time for younger players and less to do with the potential returns they have to offer.

Would you not?

Listen, I’m a believer in Okafor. I think he’s in a terrible situation for development and can become a good player still.

But no, the Lakers should not go after him unless they swapping him for Timofey Mozgov.

As it stands, the team has a logjam in the front court. Adding to that log jam makes no sense. And that doesn’t even consider the logistics of adding a terrible defender to a team that is terrible at defense.

Even despite the Lakers’ lack of movement historically at the deadline, yes I would be surprised. The stars have aligned and it makes too much sense to deal Williams.

While the Lakers could still move Williams either this summer or at next year’s deadline, their current circumstances dictate they should move him now. The team has a lot of young players who are being blocked by the super play of Williams. On top of that, they are still in the running for their draft pick and Williams dropping 30 to lead the team to a win doesn’t help the development of the current team or the prospects of retaining the pick.

The Lakers badly need to move Williams at the deadline. It’s a must.

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