Every trade deadline, NBA teams have to assess whether to make a move to improve their team. For the Lakers, they do not have that luxury.
Given the roster’s construction, the Lakers simply do not have enough assets. When the Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook in the off-season, they gave up most of their bargaining chips. Now, nobody will take Westbrook’s contract so Rob Pelinka will have little to work with as the deadline approaches.
One asset the Lakers have is Talen Horton-Tucker, who they famously held onto instead of trading for Kyle Lowry last season. Now, his stock has plummeted and reports that the Lakers don’t have any buyers for Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, and their 2027 first-round pick.
Having said that, the Lakers, who are sitting at 23-24 and in eighth place in the West, need to shake up this roster. They’re calling teams offering a future first, Kendrick Nunn, and Talen Horton-Tucker, who has underwhelmed this season, and no one is biting yet. Stein says they offered that package to Detroit for Jerami Grant. The Lakers’ problem is THT just isn’t valued highly enough by teams and that 2027 pick is a long time from conveying.
While teams could be playing hard to get, the fact that there is no one “biting” yet is concerning. Sure, Horton-Tucker has not looked great this season, but he is still 21-years old. The young guard has shown flashes of brilliance, but it has not been enough to entice the rest of the NBA.
Horton-Tucker is averaging 10.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game so far this season. It is far too early to give up on THT, but it may be too late to get legitimate value for him this season. His contract is pretty team-friendly, so keeping him beyond this year is not the worst thing.
Kendrick Nunn has yet to suit up for the Lakers so he probably has little-to-no trade value. It would have been ideal for him to have seen the floor before the deadline, but at this point, the Lakers would be content with him being somewhat of a contributor.
It also doesn’t help that the first-round pick is five years away. Current general managers are not excited about improving their team five years from now.
Even grouped together, Horton-Tucker, Nunn, and the pick are underwhelming. The Lakers need to improve the roster, but will have to be creative in doing so. Whether it is the buyout market or a team gets desperate, Pelinka will have to pull a rabbit out of his hat.