Weeks and weeks of speculation occurred after Anthony Davis made his trade demand public. “It’s going to be a wild one,” most of us thought as we imagined LeBron James and Davis pick and rolls. But when the trade deadline passed, the Unibrowed wonder was still with the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Lakers did, however, acquire some shooting help in Reggie Bullock. They also acquired Mike Muscala, whose role on the Lakers remained undefined for the rest of the year.
It’s well documented that the Lakers decided not to target shooters this past offseason. During the first three months of the season, the Lakers did not crack the top 15 in 3-point percentage. Their best stretch came during December when they shot 35.5 percent as a team from beyond the arc. January is when things became worse as a team they were dead last in the NBA, shooting just 30.6 percent.
The continued struggles in shooting prior to the trade deadline forced the Lakers to come to grips with their offseason blunder and sacrifice some assets to acquire two known shooters. Unfortunately, the results did not match the intended purpose.
First reported on February 5th, Reggie Bullock was traded to the Lakers in exchange for a 2021 second round draft pick and rookie Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. This was a low-risk high reward sort of move that made sense for the Lakers.
With Detroit, Bullock was shooting 38 percent from three and 45 percent on corner 3’s, something the Lakers desperately needed and lacked on the roster. He was averaging 12 points, 2.5 assists, and 2.3 rebounds per game.
Amid lingering foot and ankle injuries, Bullock’s 3-point percentage took a hit after he began donning the purple and gold, from 38.8 percent on 6.7 attempts per game to 34.3 percent on 5.2 attempts per game.
The former Tar Heel’s best game came against the New Orleans Pelicans on March 31 when he scored 18 points, hitting four of his six attempts from beyond the arc.
With sporadic playing time, Bullock didn’t seem to get into a groove with the team but indicated that he would welcome the idea of returning.
Bullock will be an unrestricted free agent this upcoming summer. Despite the dropoff since joining the Lakers, the organization would do well to consider bringing him back, assuming his shooting would return to the marksman numbers he had in Detroit.
To put it nicely, Muscala’s tenure with the Lakers was an unmitigated disaster, an absolute trainwreck.
Mike Muscala was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers for Michael Beasley and Ivica Zubac in a trade that was to give the Lakers some shooting and an open roster spot. Oh and Zubac? He might have just fallen into the Clippers lap as they didn’t even make a call for him.
Did the trade make sense at the time?
To an extent. Muscala was a big who can stretch the floor (or so we thought) and the Lakers needed shooters. He was shooting a mediocre (but valuable for his position) 34 percent from three with the 76ers, averaging 7.6 points per game.
How does this trade look now?
Well, Muscala shot 36.8 percent from beyond the arc in a Lakers jersey. He made 1.2 3-pointers on 3.4 attempts per game in 17 games played. In the last five games of the season, he made 51.9 percent of his 3-pointers on 5.4 attempts per contest, exaggerating his overall impact on the team.
Ivica Zubac was playing the best basketball of his career when he was traded and he’s experiencing the postseason with the Lakers’ crosstown rivals.
To put it into perspective: even when healthy, Mike Muscala was getting DNP’s. He eclipsed double-digit points five times in his last six games but did not surpass eight points in his first 11 games with the Lakers. In four appearances, Muscala failed to score at all.
In the 17 games that Muscala appeared in, the Lakers were outscored by a total of 29 points when he was on the court. That number was greatly affected by one +25 mark in a thorough dismantling of the Pelicans in which Muscala scored 10 points and recorded three rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.
Like Bullock, Muscala is going to be a free agent this summer.
If the Lakers look to have any success moving forward, their front office will have their work cut out for them this offseason. As much as these moves made sense on paper, one acquisition semi-worked while the other one cost the Lakers a promising young contributor for effectively no return.