The Los Angeles Lakers couldn't have played the NBA Trade Deadline better than they did by making no moves.
The Los Angeles Lakers made a sensible move at the NBA trade deadline by not pulling off any deals.
The past months saw the names of players such as D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, and even LeBron James at a point as players who could potentially be moved by the Lakers. With no trades pulled, it is likely that the purple and gold are opting to deal with manpower changes after the season instead.
The Lakers have disappointed this season, hardly living up to its billing as one of the favorites this season.
As of this writing, LA owns a 27-26 win-loss record in the Western Conference, good for the 9th spot. In their last assignment, the Lakers lost to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, February 8, 114-106.
With no trade and a loss, expect critics to have a field day once more. Some will question the decision of Lakers management, likely to insinuate that the Lakers passed up a chance to improve.
Why a no-trade move is good for the Lakers
Considering the Lakers pulled off wise moves last season at the NBA trade deadline, it was hardly surprising that the same was expected this year. However, no surety that tweaking the roster again would result in the same success that they had last year.
Besides, the majority of the players who led the Lakers to the Western Conference finals were still around. Despite their struggles, there is no question that Darvin Ham has somehow managed to keep the team together. A good justification for that is the Lakers being the first NBA In-Season tournament champions.
Although some claim that other teams may have not taken that seriously, the fact that any team that would win the inaugural in-season tournament would forever hold bragging rights to that.
However, the question now is, do the Lakers have enough talent and time to turn things around, make a serious run, and advance to the 2024 NBA playoffs?
Lakers heading toward an odd offseason
The Lakers may be holding off any deals until the summer. That could be a wise move for the purple and gold, one that could give them a chance to land another superstar as suggested by Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report.
But will LeBron James still be around? The 20-time All-Star holds a player option this summer and James mentioned earlier this month that he remains undecided on whether to pick up the $51.4 million for the 2024-25 season.
Most know that despite his age, James is possibly sticking around, waiting for his son to make the jump to the pro ranks. Both could end up playing together once the McDonald’s All-American officially declares for the NBA draft.
The team that picks the USC Trojan guard could also end up getting the 4-time NBA MVP – something that could be compounded if the Lakers disappoint once more this season.
This scenario could also be one reason why Rob Pelinka opted to forego a trade for now. The LeBron James situation may factor in once the offseason kicks in. Hence, keeping the young core right now makes sense especially if the 4-time NBA Finals MVP bolts Hollywood.
Moving on from Bron
At some point, James will call it a career. It may or may not be in Hollywood but the reality of all is this – the Lakers need to start acclimatizing itself to life without LeBron.
That person could be a target by the Lakers in the summer. That is unless Anthony Davis proves he can carry on the cudgels or anyone from among DLO, Austin Reaves, Hachimura, and the rest of the Lakers young core at the moment.
It will be a hard transition with the Lakers possibly having to take a hit to start a whole new era. It will not be a pretty sight although better compared to having a souped-up lineup that falls short of expectations.
The Lakers have had their chances to rebuild. They are trying to do so while at the same time maintaining their competency.
That is unfortunately failing and unless they move on from James and give other players a chance to show their true worth, the Lakers’ drama script will not change.
Ham is trying to do that but is being affected by the backlash, especially if James is either benched or not given lengthy exposure. He needs to draw the line at some point.
Critics deem Ham’s bold moves as foolish since it has not proven to be effective. Like the Lakers when they were first assembled, it takes time.
As veteran author Roland Lazenby repeatedly stressed when he spoke on Sports Bytes Philippines, it is all about establishing the chemistry from within, something that spoiled Hollywood fans hardly care about.