There’s going to be a lot of talk this offseason about who the Los Angeles Lakers can trade for but there are only so many trades the team can make. Most of the roster will have to be built through free agency. This isn’t a loaded free agent class coming up but there are some players who can come and make an impact without costing too much money.
Regardless of what happens with Russell Westbrook, the Lakers need perimeter defenders. After finishing first in defensive rating last season, the team dropped all the way down to 21st this season. The last three NBA champions finished top-10 in defensive rating. That side of the court is still very important despite teams scoring at a high rate in recent years.
The Lakers have to do a lot of things to fix their defense but Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report believes that Los Angeles Clippers forward Robert Covington would be an “ideal” option and form a good defensive duo with Anthony Davis:
After falling 20 wins shy of their preseason over-under, the Los Angeles Lakers have to be in the market for players who fit better alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and veteran three-and-D forward Robert Covington fits that description.
In lineups with Anthony Davis at the 5, the Lakers could deploy a forward tandem of Covington and LeBron James that could be plenty switchable on defense. And on the other end, Covington (a career 36.0 percent three-point shooter) would space the floor far better than the lumbering centers and ball-dominant point guard L.A. typically deployed with its two superstars in 2021-22.
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Covington Is a Former All-NBA Defender
Covington came into the NBA as an undrafted free agent and had to work his way up in the G League before getting his shot. He’s turned into a dependable player over the years and was even named NBA All-Defensive First-Team in 2018. He’s not a big scorer as he’s only averaged 11.6 over his career but he’s been improving as a 3-point shooter.
He made 37.9% of his threes last season and 37.8% of them this season. He’s not a sharpshooter but he’s good enough to help with spacing. Couple that with his defensive ability and he’d be a solid addition for the Lakers.
Lakers Need More Than Covington
While Covington would be a good start, he’s certainly not saving the Lakers’ defense. Adding him would give Davis a solid running mate on defense but the team still needs perimeter defenders. Westbrook is a future Hall of Famer but he’s never been a great defender and is just getting worse.
Landing a player like Malcolm Brogdon would certainly help with the perimeter defense. However, it would take a trade to get him. If the Lakers can’t make that happen, perhaps they look at Ricky Rubio in free agency. He is 31 now but will still give effort on the defensive end. If the Lakers move on from Westbrook without getting a point guard in return, there would be worse options than Rubio.