In a December 26 article called “Lakers are wasting LeBron James’ greatness and loss on Christmas is another reminder,” The Athletic’s Jovan Buha wrote that the Los Angeles Lakers front office “doesn’t want to compound its previous mistakes with more win-now moves.”
The Lakers are still evaluating their options on the trade market, but it’s possible that general manager Rob Pelinka doesn’t make a massive trade to improve the roster around superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
“Reinforcements via trade would obviously help, and the Lakers are still evaluating their options on a dormant trade market,” Buha wrote. “At the same time, it becomes increasingly challenging to justify trading a first-round pick if the group continues to struggle. The front office doesn’t want to compound its previous mistakes with more win-now moves.”
The Lakers are 13-20 on the season. They have the third-worst record in the Western Conference and are well on their way to missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Los Angeles made a blockbuster trade during the summer of 2021, acquiring Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards. That trade wound up being a bad move for the purple and gold, who went 33-49 in 2021-22.
“There are many slices of the blame pie to be shared,” Buha wrote. “Among them, James obviously bears some blame for part of the roster construction considering his notable input — like supporting the Westbrook trade — he’s had over the past few seasons.”
Lakers’ Most Likely Trade Outcome Revealed
Buha reported on December 21 that Davis’ right foot injury has increased the probability that the only move the Lakers make is a minor deal featuring one first-round pick. Los Angeles wants to trade guards Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn for a “3-and-D wing or combo forward.”
“Davis’ injury has increased the probability that the only move the Lakers make is a smaller trade featuring, at most, one first-round pick, sources with knowledge of the Lakers’ plans told The Athletic,” Buha reported. “The one exception is if a star that can grow alongside Davis over the next few years becomes available. But the most likely trade outcome, at this point, is some form of Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn and either the 2027 or 2029 first-round pick (likely protected) for a 3-and-D wing or combo forward that fits well next Davis and James, those sources said. As The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported last week, Russell Westbrook is likely to stay with the Lakers past the trade deadline, unless the team can find a deal ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline that requires them to trade only one of their future first-round picks.”
Beverley and Nunn are on expiring contracts and neither guard has played well for the Lakers this season. Beverley is averaging 5.7 points while shooting 37.7% from the field and 30.0% from beyond the arc, while Nunn is averaging 5.2 points while shooting 35.5% overall and 28.8% on 3s.
Who Can the Lakers Get for Patrick Beverley & Kendrick Nunn?
According to Buha, the Lakers are targeting multiple role players. Los Angeles doesn’t believe there is a trade available that will immediately turn the team into a contender since Davis is expected to miss substantial time with his foot injury.
“In addition to the other names that have been attached to the Lakers, some others to watch that are expected to be available are Jae Crowder, Eric Gordon, Alec Burks, Terry Rozier, P.J. Washington, Kelly Oubre Jr., Josh Richardson and Jakob Poeltl, according to those sources,” Buha reported. “The Lakers don’t believe there is a trade presently available that will immediately turn them into a contender, especially when factoring in the likelihood that Davis will miss a few weeks at a minimum.”