The Los Angeles Lakers have been involved in a ton of roster move speculation over the last few weeks ahead of the March 25 trade deadline, leading many to believe that a roster move is imminent for the purple and gold.
However, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst believes that the defending champions will stand pat at the trade deadline, and if they do make a move, it could indicate the health of star Anthony Davis isn’t exactly what the team is letting on.
Windhorst discussed the Lakers’ trade deadline plans on the latest edition of the Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast with Tim Bontemps and Tim MacMahon.
“I do not expect the Lakers to make a trade,” Windhorst said on the podcast. “Having said that, in talking to executives around the league, when the Lakers have had trade discussions recently, they have indicated they are looking for big man help, which implies they want more reinforcements there. Some teams have wondered if that means AD might be more banged up than they thought. It may just mean they just need help with [Marc] Gasol not playing that great.”
The Gasol signing hasn’t gone as planned and the Lakers have missed the rim protection Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee provided last season. And while Gasol has a unique skill set for a big man, the 36-year-old Spaniard has looked every part his age at times during the year. Gasol is averaging 4.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in just over 20 minutes per game this season.
The report from Windhorst jives with what Lakers star LeBron James told reporters on Thursday prior to practice, saying he “loves” what the team currently has in the locker room.
Worries About Anthony Davis’ Health Continue
The All-Star break can come and gone but there has no been significant update on Anthony Davis from the Lakers. Davis is not going to play in the Lakers’ first game out of the break on Friday against the Pacers and his timeline for a return is still to be decided.
The initial diagnosis was four weeks for what the team dubbed as a calf strain, but the Achilles tendinosis is what has some concerned about No. 1 overall pick going forward.
“This is red-alert, uh-oh with Anthony Davis,” MacMahon said on the podcast with Windhorst. “The fact there was some Achilles with some long medical word after it. Then he comes back and plays one game and limps off. We haven’t seen him since. Obviously, the main thing is you want him healthy when the playoffs start. If he’s healthy when the playoffs start, I like the Lakers to come out of the Western Conference. It does not matter if they sink to the No. 4 seed or whatever.”
Gasol is also out for the time being due to the league’s health and safety protocols. With a lack of depth with both Gasol and Davis out, the Lakers signed center Damian Jones to a second 10-day deal this week, hoping he can prove to be a missing piece.
“I want to see more of what he did,” Laker head coach Frank Vogel said of Jones. “I thought he played well for us. He plays the role of a lob threat. Don’t try to play outside of that lane offensively.
“To be a screener and a rebounder and a lob threat offensively, and defensively, to be able to man the middle, to be a shot-blocker, to play in our pick-and-roll coverages, and obviously to rebound the ball and match up with other teams’ bigger centers is what we asked of him last week. I thought he did well with it, and we’ll continue to look at that over these next 10 days.”
Workload for LeBron James Concerning
With Davis being out, the majority of the load falls on LeBron James, who logged some huge minutes before getting a few days off.
“I know he’s an absolute freak of nature and I know he invests millions in taking care of his body. I get all that,” McMahon said. “But he’s 36 years old in his 18th year. You can’t be piling 36, 38, 40 minutes a night on him with the ball in his hands the whole game and just assume he’s going to have a ton of gas in the tank to play four playoff series.”
James, meanwhile, has no worries about his workload and is locked in for what he hopes is a championship repeat run.
“It’s go time,” James told reporters Thursday. “It’s time to get prepared and making that turnaround, that last lap going into the postseason. … I’m not into looking ahead saying, ‘OK, let’s take this off, take that off.’
“Nah, it’s go time for me.”
The Lakers are a 4.5-point favorite against the Pacers, per Odds Shark.