For a while, it looked like the Los Angeles Lakers were content to sit out the trade deadline and wait to see what free agents become available on the post-deadline buyout market. But the injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis (who both could be out into early April), and the sinking the Lakers have done in the standings since, may have thrown a wrench in those plans.
Thursday’s trade deadline is closing in, and with three straight ugly losses n the ledger, it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that the Lakers try to swing a big trade in an effort to stay above water while their stars get healthy.
“The Hornets could find that frontcourt depth in Memphis’ Gorgui Dieng, whom the Grizzlies are looking to move before his contract expires at the end of the season,” Fischer wrote. “Charlotte has also called the Lakers about Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles’ bruising center, sources said, and the reigning champions appear willing to entertain offers.”
That would represent a change in approach for the Lakers, as Harrell has been an important player. While his defense has been an issue, he is averaging 14.7 points a game, which is fourth on the team. The Lakers would have to make sure they’re getting a good return before they consider trading the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.
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What Could Hornets Offer Lakers?
The Hornets’ top three players are Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball. Hayward and Ball are untouchable, and though Rozier has been the subject of trade talk, it would take more than Harrell to bring him in.
The more likely target would be Devonte’ Graham, a prolific 3-point shooter who is making 36.6% from the arc this season, which would help a Los Angeles offense that needs more shooting even when Davis and James are back. Graham is also averaging 13.1 points a game, which is fourth-best on the Hornets.
However, a Harrell-for-Graham swap wouldn’t be enough–there would need to be more talent and salary coming in from Charlotte to make a deal work. Perhaps the Hornets could throw in Malik Monk, who plays inconsistent minutes but is shooting 40.8% from three.
That kind of shooting would help the Lakers, who make only 10.8 3-pointers per game (26th in the NBA), in a significant way. While adding Graham and Monk would improve the team’s biggest weakness, losing an impact player like Harrell would be tough.
Trading Harrell Makes Sense if They Sign Andre Drummond
If the Lakers want to trade Harrell, the Hornets might not be the best trade partner. Now, if they know that they’re going to sign Andre Drummond when he hits the buyout market, a move to trade Harrell makes more sense. Adding Drummond, Graham and Monk, even while losing Harrell, might help the Lakers.
They’d fix their shooting issues while also getting a starting center who can score and is a four-time rebounding champ. Marc Gasol would serve as the backup center, which would probably be preferable for Los Angeles. Having Drummond on the roster with Gasol makes Harrell a luxury and minutes might be hard to spread around, especially for an undersized backup center (Harrell is 6-foot-8).
If the team adds Drummond and keeps Harrell, that doesn’t really fix their 3-point shooting issue. They are 22nd in the NBA in 3-point shooting which isn’t a recipe for success. Trading Harrell to add shooters could prove to be the smart move, but only if they can land Drummond or another capable big man.