After bringing home the NBA Championship in The Bubble in 2020, the Los Angeles Lakers have failed to find any more success. They were bounced from the playoffs in the first round in 2021, they failed to even make the Play-In Tournament in 2022, and so far this year, they’re just 23-26 and sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference standings.
However, with the February 9 trade deadline rapidly approaching, they have a chance to shake up the roster and improve their playoff chances. A move made by Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors could make things interesting for the Lakers at the deadline.
“The strong expectation in league circles is that Raptors guard Fred VanVleet plans to hire Klutch Sports as his new representation,” reported long-time NBA insider Marc Stein in his newsletter, The Stein Line. My pal and podcast partner Mr. Haynes reported earlier this week via Bleacher Report that VanVleet was in the process of hiring new agents in advance of free agency, with the seventh-year guard poised to become an unrestricted free agent unless he and the Raptors hash out a contract extension. Numerous teams around the league continue to wonder (perhaps I should say hope) that Toronto starts welcoming trade pitches for VanVleet in fear that it won’t be able to re-sign him. The guard-shy Orlando Magic have been increasingly mentioned as a likely prime VanVleet suitor this summer.”
Klutch Sports represents both LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and they are often connected to the Lakers because of that. VanVleet’s signing with Klutch Sports could potentially help facilitate a deal if the Lakers decided to pursue the point guard in a trade.
VanVleet was an All-Star last year, and while his efficiency is down this season, he’s still putting up solid numbers. The veteran guard has appeared in 41 of the Raptors’ 50 games and is playing 36.8 minutes per contest. He is averaging 19.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game on 39.4% shooting from the floor and 34.6% shooting from behind the three-point line.
Lakers Interested in Fred VanVleet Trade
This latest development follows a recent report that linked the Lakers to VanVleet. According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, if VanVleet were to become available on the trade market, the Lakers would be one of the teams interested.
“Either the Raptors and VanVleet will extend their marriage, or the team will look to get value for him in a trade before the deadline,” Pincus wrote. “If it’s the latter, several playoff contenders (at least teams that consider themselves playoff contenders) would have interest, such as the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards. So, too, would the Orlando Magic, per multiple NBA sources.”
Lakers Could Still Make Trades by Deadline
Los Angeles has already been active in the trade market this year, adding Rui Hachimura to the mix. And during Hachimura’s introductory press conference, GM Rob Pelinka hinted at the fact that more moves may be on the horizon for the Lakers.
“We’re canvassing the league on ways to get better,” Pelinka said via the United Life 4 ever YouTube channel. “Doesn’t mean our work is finished. We are going to continue to monitor the situation with 29 other teams. Our job as a front office is to always look for ways to improve our team both now and in the future.”