The Los Angeles Lakers sit at a pedestrian 16-16 on the season following an ugly 18-point loss to the Phoenix Suns.
While LeBron James continues to play good basketball, fellow star Anthony Davis is sidelined with a sprained MCL. Meanwhile, the likes of Russell Westbrook have not lived up to expectations for the struggling team.
With about a month and a half to go before the February NBA trade deadline, it sure seems that general manager Rob Pelinka is looking to rectify the issues in Southern California.
“I spoke to LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, and he said that talk [of James leaving] in itself is ridiculous and it’s totally false. LeBron James isn’t leaving the Lakers, he’s going to be on the Lakers,” Shams Charania of The Athletic reported recently. “The question is: how can the Lakers get better? That’s why I’ve heard they have been active in the trade market.”
The Lakers are missing important trade assets in that of future first-round picks stemming from recent blockbuster trades. However, the do have a young asset in Talen Horton-Tucker and other pieces to offer up. Below, we look at three potential Lakers trade scenarios.
Los Angeles Lakers add two role players from Detroit Pistons
- Lakers get: Cory Joseph, Josh Jackson, two second-round picks
- Pistons get: Talen Horton-Tucker
The Lakers can’t move Horton-Tucker until mid-January becuase they re-signed the wing using their bird rights. It complicates things over the next couple weeks. With that said, the former second-round pick remains Los Angeles’ best asset. He’d be a tremendous fit next to Cade Cunningham for the rebuilding Pistons.
This specific trade nets the Lakers two veteran rotational pieces to help build their depth. Joseph has been an underrated point guard since entering the league back in 2011. This season, he’s averaging 6.6 points and 3.4 assists on 44% shooting. At the very least, he’s an upgrade over Rajon Rondo. As for Jackson, he’s a solid wing at this stage in his career. He’s coming off a 2020-21 season that saw the former top-four pick average 13.4 points and 4.1 rebounds. Adding two future second-round picks also gives Los Angeles some more assets moving forward.
Los Angeles Lakers bring back Dennis Schroder
- Lakers get: Dennis Schroder
- Celtics get: Kendrick Nunn, two future second-round picks
Everyone and their mother knows that Boston will look to sell off Schroder ahead of the NBA trade deadline. The team signed him to a mere one-year, $5.8 million contract this past off-season and doesn’t have the capability to re-sign the veteran guard next summer. It will want to get something for him. A young player in Nunn could help immediately once he returns from injury. Two future second-round picks makes this worth the Celtics’ while.
As for Schroder in Los Angeles, he was an absolute disaster with the team a season ago. However, the Lakers won’t be relying on him as much with Russell Westbrook now acting as the third scorer. In fact, the two would do well together as a back-court tandem. Schroder has turned it around this season, averaging 16.8 points and 4.7 assists for Boston. This reunion actually makes a lot of sense.
Los Angeles Lakers go big-game hunting in Sacramento
- Lakers get: Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III, Tristan Thompson
- Kings get: Russell Westbrook, two first-round picks, three second-round picks
In order to move Westbrook and his bloated contract, Los Angeles will have to give away whatever assets they have in the form of draft picks. This includes two future first-round picks (2026 and 2028) as well as three future second-round picks in order for Sacramento to take on (and eventually buy out) Westbrook. For a Kings team seemingly looking to hit the reset button, this makes sense.
As for Los Angeles it adds that much-needed floor spacer in Hield (career 40% three-point shooter) as well as a still young big man in Bagley. Bringing in Thompson to reunite with LeBron James would also make sense. Though, it must be noted that the Lakers would then need to pull off a seperate trade for a point guard to replace Russ (see: Dennis Schroder above).