And just like that, the Los Angeles Lakers are 2-9, with little reason to be optimistic about their upcoming schedule.
On November 9, the Los Angeles Clippers defeated their hometown rivals 114-101, to give Lakers fans yet another thing to be upset about. Luckily, Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale had proposed a new trade target for the Lakers to discuss: the Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler.
Favale’s proposed trade looks like this;
Lakers Get: Jimmy Butler
Miami Heat Get: Russell Westbrook, 2027 first-round pick, 2029 first-round pick, two future pick swaps
“Jimmy Butler could thus decide to take matters into his own hands. Maybe he’ll want to play for the Lakers. And maybe other teams won’t be tripping over themselves to acquire a 33-year-old with three seasons and an estimated $146.4 million left on his deal (including a $52.4 million player option in 2025-26)…Butler wouldn’t add a ton of shooting to the Lakers, but his downhill pressure and creativity coupled with his exhaustive defense and the fact that he’s an actual, real-life wing would make him an awesome on-court fit with Anthony Davis and LeBron James,” Favale wrote on November 10.
Lakers Holding Onto Their Draft Picks
Unfortunately for Lakers fans, the biggest stumbling block for Los Angeles to acquire a new star, is the front office’s reluctance to part with their future first-round draft picks. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Rob Pelinka and his team are becoming increasingly unwilling to move on from their two most tradeable assets, especially if the Lakers continue to lose at their current rate.
“I’m told that the organization will be prudent with their two first-round picks available that they have for the remainder of the decade, in 2027 and 2029. I don’t believe the Lakers are in a position right now, to mortgage their future with those two available picks. So, realizing that this team is probably not going to be a championship contender, might not even be a shoo-in for the playoffs, I mean the way that this season is going.
They’re probably looking at marginal changes around the edges, at best. And that means trying to make deals without putting in first-round picks. Because, as of right now, the organization seems to be moving in a direction where they’re going to resist moving first-round picks if the season continues to go down this path,” Charania said on November 8.
Given that a potential trade for Butler would almost certainly require future draft assets to be attached as compensation, the Lakers could struggle to even open significant lines of communication with Pat Riley and Miami’s front office.
Stephen A. Smith Rips Into the Lakers
Another downside to being the Lakers, is the never-ending media scrutiny, regardless of whether you’re on a winning or losing streak. On a November 8 episode of ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith decided to take aim at the current Lakers roster, pinpointing their most glaring flaw, and urging them to find some fresh blood.
“They can’t shoot…The bottom line is this, they can’t shoot…The fact of the matter is, they have been more competitive defensively. They do have athletes. They do have dudes who can ball a little bit. The problem is, they can’t shoot to save their d*** life. And, this is in the year 2022, where the game has evolved and changed so significantly, that you have to be able to shoot…Somehow, some way, they’ve assembled a squad that can’t shoot…In the end, the results won’t change until they get brothas’ that can put it in the hole from long-range. And by brothas’ I mean everybody, black, white, Latino, get an Asian American, a Native American, I don’t give a d*** who you find – somebody who can shoot the d*** ball,” Smith said.
Regardless of if the Lakers decide to swing for the fences on a new star player, stick with their current rotation and hope for improvement, or look to tear it down and begin to gather assets for a rebuild, one fact remains the same, this current roster is disjointed and lacking in confidence which makes long-term success virtually impossible.