The NBA trade deadline isn’t until February of 2022 but it’s never too early for teams start to thinking about deals they can make. The Los Angeles Lakers season hasn’t gotten off to the best start. The team is 12-11 and struggling on both sides of the court. The offensive talent is on the roster for the team to turn things around on that end but the defensive issues could linger all season.
The Lakers should be very interested in finding some defensive help, especially at guard. One name that should pique the team’s interest is Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanFleet. Sam Quinn of CBS Sports believes a swap of Talen Horton-Tucker and VanFleet could make sense for Los Angeles despite the deal being a long shot:
The absolute perfect hypothetical addition to the Lakers. He has a strong track record defending Curry, is an excellent 3-point shooter and can provide real ball-handling juice off the bench. That’s why the Raptors aren’t going to trade him. He’s having a career year and is only 27, so there’s no real need to give him up. Still, given Toronto’s sub-.500 record and their interest in Horton-Tucker last season, it’s worth a phone call.
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Perhaps Adding Kendrick Nunn to Deal Could Interest Toronto
VanFleet is everything the Lakers could need from a backup point guard to Russell Westbrook. He’s a career 38.5% 3-point shooter averaging 20.3 points a game this season who is capable of putting the clamps on Steph Curry as Quinn noted. With the Golden State Warriors looking like one of the favorites out of the Western Conference, having a player who can slow down Curry would give the Lakers a massive advantage.
The Raptors did show interest in Horton-Tucker last season but he’s not as good of a player as VanFleet right now. If Los Angeles hopes to pry him away from Toronto, they’ll need to make them a compelling offer. Though Kendrick Nunn hasn’t played this season due to injury, he’s a 26-year-old guard who averages 15.0 points a game over his career and can play some defense. Adding two young guards with a ton of upside in Horton-Tucker and Nunn could be very appealing for a Raptors team that may be thinking about a rebuild in the near future.
Do Lakers Need to Make a Big Trade?
The offseason trade for Westbrook certainly hurt the Lakers’ trade flexibility this season. They moved off of most of their best trade pieces in the deal. While adding a guy like VanFleet could give the team a big boost off the bench, they may not need to take such drastic measures.
Trevor Ariza and Nunn will return at some point this season and both should provide a boost on the defensive side of the court. Also, LeBron James has missed more games than he’s played this season. The key for the Lakers is to simply get healthy. Even if they traded for a guy like VanFleet, they’re not going very far in the playoffs if they keep getting injured.