The NBA season is close to hitting its midpoint and it’s looking like the Los Angeles Lakers are ready to start looking towards the playoffs. With a strong hold on the top spot in the Western Conference, Los Angeles would like to work out any kinks as the playoffs get closer. That may include being active in the trade market.
According to Zach Lowe at ESPN, the Lakers struggle greatly on offense when LeBron James isn’t on the floor. Lowe believes that Los Angeles is looking for ballhandling help and their preparing to make additions:
It feels weird to say a dose of ballhandling would help, given both Rondo and Caruso are capable. But Caruso isn’t a possession organizer, and late-career Rondo is hit-or-miss in that role against top defenses. He has been better as a connector — a cutter and extra pass guy — in the middle of possessions than as initiator. (Rondo got a “like” in this space for his connector role last month.)
The Lakers know this. They are looking. They will also ramp up LeBron’s playing time in the postseason; there might be only five or six non-LeBron minutes in the highest-stakes games. Davis on his own should win some of those stretches. But entire quarters — and then games, then series — can be lost in those segments.
The Lakers may have become too dependent on LeBron and the production he brings. As great as Anthony Davis has been, he doesn’t have the consistent game-breaking ability that LeBron still possesses. It’s championship or bust for the Lakers in 2020. While LeBron has proven in the past that he’s more than capable of maintaining a heavy workload during the postseason, he’s 35-years old and Los Angeles should do what they can to not rely so heavily on the star.
Derrick Rose Among Potential Trade Targets
Despite having a very up and down career thanks to injuries, Derrick Rose still finds ways to reinvent himself into a valuable player. As a Detroit Piston this season, Rose has become one of the best sixth-men in the NBA. The Pistons are 14-25 and don’t look like they’re going on a championship run anytime soon. The problem is that it’s up to Rose if he wants to get traded, per Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus. LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the allure of winning a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers should be more than enough to convince Rose to be willing to get dealt.
If Rose would prefer to stay put, Sean Deveney at Heavy.com has reported that the Lakers may have an interest in Orlando Magic guard D.J. Augustin. He’s a veteran and while he doesn’t have the upside that Rose would bring, he still could be an upgrade for the team’s bench.
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Lakers Could Look to Free Agency
It’s also possible the Lakers could skip the trade market altogether and look to free agency to fill the need. Retired guard Darren Collison is reportedly ready to come out of retirement and make a comeback. The Southern California native is only 32-years old and should be refreshed and ready to go after taking some time off.
Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus reported previously that the Lakers are high on him, but it remains to be seen if Collison is interested in playing for his hometown team. If he decided to come out of retirement and sign with the purple and gold, it would fill a need for the Lakers without them having to give anything up.