Earlier in the offseason, it appeared the Los Angeles Lakers could’ve made a trade. Now it’s been over a month since free agency started and the team has yet to make a big move. There’s still plenty of time for deals to be made but concern is mounting that the team might look similar to how it did last season.
Vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka has to be feeling the pressure. Lakers governor Jeanie Buss is patient with her executives but she doesn’t like seeing her team be a laughingstock. Los Angeles has made it clear that they don’t want to overpay in a trade, which is hurting their chances. According to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, teams around the NBA are surprised with how Pelinka is attacking the trade market and his unwillingness to attach draft picks to a trade of Russell Westbrook.
“So far, that’s a road the Lakers haven’t seriously taken, Rob Pelinka surprising plenty of folks around the NBA with his hesitancy to attach multiple draft picks with Westbrook in trade talks,” Woike wrote.
ALL the latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!
Why Won’t Pelinka Attach More Draft Picks?
There’s nothing wrong with Pelinka playing hardball. All the best general managers can be difficult. However, Pelinka might be taking things too far. His hesitancy may have cost the Lakers a chance to land Kyrie Irving in a trade. Had he come in and offered two first-round draft picks for Irving, he might be a Laker right now.
It’s understandable that the team wants to protect its future. The only first-round picks they can trade are their 2027 and 2029 ones. It’s hard to fathom LeBron James will still be playing on the team then. They could be very bad after he retires which means those picks could be high. If the Lakers are bad and have no draft picks, that could lead to several years as NBA bottom feeders. That said, Los Angeles has a title window with LeBron right now. Giving up a couple of future draft picks is worth it if it leads to the team winning another championship in the next few years.
Lakers May Be Willing to Trade More Picks Now
Pelinka tried to play hardball with the Brooklyn Nets and they called his bluff. Luckily, it appears that Kevin Durant is not going to play with the team again, which means that Irving will likely be traded. According to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha, the Lakers have become more willing to trade their two first-round picks in an Irving deal.
As of right now, the Lakers roster is not strong enough to compete in the Western Conference. Irving may not even be enough to get them over the hump but he does make them better. A healthy trio of LeBron, Irving and Anthony Davis is the best in the NBA. However, none of the three have proven they can stay healthy in recent years. Trading for Irving is a big risk but it’s the kind of move the Lakers need to do if they hope to just have a chance.