While the Los Angeles Lakers might feel that they’ve got a championship-caliber roster in place, there is always room for improvement, especially in the form of a seasoned veteran with copious amounts of playoff experience.
Enter Jae Crowder, the Phoenix Suns wing who has just agreed to sit out training camp while his team looks for potential trades to relocate him at the earliest opportunity, as reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania on September 25.
According to CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn, the Lakers should be considered as a potential landing spot for the impressive forward, as he would help improve their defense while also giving them a low-usage scoring outlet on the offensive end.
“Crowder’s last three NBA seasons have consisted of back-to-back runs to the NBA Finals (Miami 2020, Phoenix 2021) and league- and franchise-best 64 wins for the Suns in 2021-22. Crowder has been a key part of the Suns’ rotation; the team has gone 115-39 in his two seasons,” Charania also reported on September 25.
The 32-year-old forward has spent the last two seasons in Phoenix, participating in a total of 127 regular-season games, starting 109 of them and averaging 9.7 points, five rebounds, and two assists per contest while shooting 36.9% from deep and 48.5% from two-point range. Crowder has also participated in 35 playoff games while in Phoenix posting averages of 10.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists while shooting 35.6% from three.
Lakers Unwilling to Trade Away Future Draft Picks
Should Los Angeles decide to engage in trade discussions for Crowder, the Suns’ will need to be mindful that the Lakers are not interested in giving up any of their future draft assets at this moment in time – something which has seen deals with the Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers stall in recent weeks.
As reported by Charania on a September 21 appearance on The Rally, Los Angeles is taking a prudent approach to their future draft picks, and won’t be rushing into a deal that would cost them some future flexibility.
“The two first-round pick price is just not appealing for the Lakers, and right now, they’re going to be very prudent with the approach they’re going to take…And the Lakers mindset, I’m told, they realize this is a significant bullet that they’re going to have to use. When you look at two unprotected first-round picks, they have to time out when exactly it makes sense to make a trade,” Charania said.
Luckily, the Suns are likely to prefer a win-now package that consists of veteran role-players to help add some depth to their rotation, as they look to get over the hump and finally lift the Larry O’Brien trophy next season.
Crowder Would Fill Carmelo Anthony’s Old Role
Since his contract expired with the Lakers this summer, veteran superstar Carmelo Anthony has been an unrestricted free agent but has yet to sign with another team. Of course, that means some Laker fans are still holding out hope that Rob Pelinka and the front office reach back out to bring the forward into the roster for a second straight season.
However, should the Lakers move to acquire Crowder, the six-foot-six forward would surely step into the role that Anthony has now vacated, giving the Lakers some additional defensive upside while also commanding fewer touches than his star counterpart.
Still, Anthony does retain some strong support within the Lakers locker room, most notable in LeBron James, who recently shouted out Anthony via Twitter following the release of some training footage.
Nevertheless, LeBron’s number one focus will always be contending for a ring, and if Crowder can help the Lakers achieve that goal more than Anthony can, LeBron will most likely support the move.