After a disappointing NBA trade deadline day in which the Lakers failed to accomplish much of anything—they passed on some offers, were rebuffed on others and wound up holding steady with a roster that has produced a 26-31 record and losses in 12 of its last 17 games—attention now turns to the buyout market, with the Lakers hoping to ignite the team with a mid-season signing.
A handful of names has emerged as potential targets, but at the top of the list, according to league sources, is veteran point guard Goran Dragic, whose injury while with the Heat in 2020 badly hurt Miami’s chances against the Lakers in the NBA Finals.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Dragic would be a Lakers target, joining a “formidable list of free-agent suitors.”
As one NBA exec told Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney ahead of a Facebook Live chat, Dragic is expected to be the Lakers top target.
“They need a game-changer and Goran could be that guy, and they know it,” the executive said. “You’re taking a chance that he does not have much left in the tank, but he is going to have a higher ceiling than anybody else you might sign in the next few weeks. Look, the Lakers have been miserable and they need someone to spark them, and they’re hoping he is the guy. But there is going to be a long list of teams after him. They’re going to have to make a good pitch.”
Goran Dragic Could Replace Russell Westbrook?
Indeed, Dragic will be 36 in May and has had trouble staying healthy in recent years. He was traded to the Raptors in the offseason as part of the Kyle Lowry deal, but did not want to be in Toronto and, after five games, the two sides agreed to look for a trade. He was sent to San Antonio at the deadline and the Spurs will buy out the remainder of his contract in the coming days.
Among the teams pursuing Dragic are, according to reports, the Warriors, the Clippers, the Bucks, the Bulls and the Heat, the team for which Dragic played his previous seven seasons. He averaged 16.2 points and 5.2 assists for Miami, helping the team to the 2020 NBA Finals in the Orlando bubble, where he hurt his foot and struggled to return.
But Dragic is the kind of experienced playmaker and solid 3-point shooter the Lakers could use, either to play alongside Russell Westbrook or, if the team wanted to make a drastic move, to use Westbrook off the bench as a sixth man.
Dennis Schroder a Potential Lakers Target
If the Lakers can’t get Dragic, they will have few other options on the buyout market. One is expected to be the team’s former point guard, Dennis Schroder, who left the team in free agency last summer, proclaiming that there was not a “fit” with him, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
But the Lakers figure to have the same problem with Schroder that they will face with Dragic—the team is just not as attractive as some others who will be making pitches to Schroder, a list that could include Milwaukee and Phoenix, last year’s NBA finalists.
The Bulls are also expected to be in on Schroder, and had discussed a trade for him with the Celtics prior to the deadline.