After getting off to a rough start, the Los Angeles Lakers rallied back, thanks to stellar play from Anthony Davis, who ranked third in the NBA in rebounds per game while also chipping in 27.4 points per game. The Lakers were just 12-16 at the time of Davis’ injury, not spectacular, but it still kept them in the race.
But then Davis got hurt, and L.A. has slipped to 13-20, with the third-worst record in the Western Conference. His injury, which is expected to sideline the eight-time All-Star for at least a month, has not only caused the Lakers to experience a losing spell but also has increased the pressure to make a trade aimed at keeping the team competitive.
Yet, swinging a trade doesn’t appear to be the plan for general manager Rob Pelinka in the near future.
Los Angeles Lakers want to avoid more roster move mistakes
One of the biggest reasons why the Lakers have been so dormant in trade discussions is due to their lack of tradeable assets. With only two first-round picks (2027 and 2029) that can be traded right now, the Lakers can’t just assemble a mega offer that brings in another All-Star player.
Combine that with a roster that has long been short on depth, and it’s hard to find an immediate path to make this roster into a contender.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis are likely untouchable in trade discussions. Russell Westbrook has long been on the trade block, but his value prior to this season was at an all-time low. He’s only recently begun building it back up, but it still isn’t near the same level as when the Lakers made the trade, to begin with.
Behind these three core members are three possible starter-quality players, in Patrick Beverley (who’s also in a down year), Dennis Schroder, and Thomas Bryant. But Beverley’s 34, Schroder is 29, and Bryant is 25. Another tradeable commodity is Lonnie Walker IV, who’s in the midst of the best season in his career.
None of these are impact players, and it’s shown this year with the Lakers’ struggles.
Basically, the Lakers’ hands are tied, and as Jovan Buha of The Athletic reports, the organization’s front office is currently in the evaluation process of determining what their trade options are. But this analysis could ultimately lead nowhere, with the Lakers reportedly hesitant to make a trade just to make changes. Their fear is making a move that only makes matters worse, such as the Westbrook deal.
Having a player such as Kyle Kuzma still on the roster would be an ideal addition to this existing core, but he was part of the package for Westbrook, and reacquiring him may be too rich for L.A.’s blood. Basically, the Lakers know they aren’t great, but they also don’t want to dig themselves into a deeper hole in the future, meaning it could be another long season in Laker territory.