Lakers Called on to Trade Key Player for ‘Stretch Big’

rob pelinka

Getty Los Angeles Lakers GM Rob Pelinka.

The Los Angeles Lakers have gotten off to a fast start this season despite the quick turnaround. The team is 6-2 and is playing well on both sides of the floor. However, the roster might have a weakness when they get closer to the postseason.

As of right now, they don’t have great size outside of Marc Gasol and Anthony Davis. When Montrezl Harrell plays late in games, opposing teams take advantage of the undersized center. That could be a problem when the Lakers are playing important games. Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report believes the team should trade Harrell for a “stretch big”:

Unless the Lakers plan to pivot heavily toward using Anthony Davis at center in the second season (he spent 60 percent of his minutes there in the 2020 playoffs), L.A. should diversify its frontcourt looks ahead of time.

Nemanja Bjelica may not match Harrell’s talent, but the former could enjoy a cleaner fit playing off the Lakers’ stars as a superior spacer and ball-mover. If the Sacramento Kings would throw in someone like Glenn Robinson III—if they’re worried about Marvin Bagley III’s development, they might need Harrell—the Lakers could improve their playoff whole, even if the individual parts aren’t quite as strong.

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Bjelica for Harrell Isn’t a Great Deal

Buckley isn’t completely off in saying that Bjelica could be a better fit with the Lakers than Harrell but the two men aren’t at the same skill level. Harrell is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and one of the best scorers off the bench in the NBA. Bjelica has only averaged eight points a game throughout his career and 4.8 rebounds.

He’s an infinitely better 3-point shooter than Harrell as he averages 39% from beyond the arc. That said, Bjelica is just a rotational big man while Harrell is an impact player. Adding Glenn Robinson III to the deal doesn’t make it worth it for the Lakers. If they are set on trading Harrell, they should at least get a better haul.

Lakers Should Consider Adding Another Big Man

There probably isn’t going to be a great trade out there for Harrell but the Lakers don’t need to trade him. Despite his struggles late in games, he’s becoming an important piece for the team and is their fourth-best scorer. If the Lakers feel they need another big man, they can add one without trading Harrell.

While a trade doesn’t seem likely right now, Los Angeles should keep an eye on the buyout market later in the season. A big reason the Lakers were so dominant last season was that they had excellent size that many teams couldn’t compete with. As of right now, Anthony Davis and Gasol are the only true big men on the roster. It could be a good idea to add a seven-footer once buyouts start to happen. When the Lakers play a team like the Nuggets, Nikola Jokic is probably going to have a field day. They should keep that in mind when they’re exploring the buyout market.

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