Despite some major struggles recently, the Los Angeles Lakers just find themselves a few games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It’s been a dramatic turnabout for the organization, one that has fans thinking of more success down the road.
With a young core to build around, the Lakers’ trajectory is pointing nowhere but up. That’s in large part due to the job Luke Walton has done in his first season as the team’s head coach.
Still, at 15-27 and with a 5-17 record since the start of December, the Lakers are obviously on the outside looking in out west. This has led to some speculation that they might be looking for an upgrade before the trade deadline.
According to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News, one player the Lakers have kept tabs on is Philadelphia 76ers big man Nerlens Noel.
“The Lakers have inserted themselves on trade talks this season and will continue to do so,” Deveney reported. “They had talks with Atlanta about Paul Millsap and expressed interest in Nerlens Noel, if the Sixers decide to go ahead with a deal for him.”
The issue here is that Los Angeles is unwilling to part with any members of its young core. This includes the likes of Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, two likely key role players moving forward for the team. With questions surrounding the Lakers’ draft status over the next couple years, they might not have the assets to acquire someone of Noel’s ilk.
Though, it’s been well known for some time now that Philadelphia has been looking to move either Noel or Jahlil Okafor (more on that here).
With the surplus of big men the Sixers boast, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one of these two moved.
For his part, Noel is averaging a career-low 7.3 points while playing just over 14 minutes per game. If he’s the odd-man out, the Sixers might very well look to get pennies on the dollar for his services. If so, the Lakers will surely show interest.