The Lakers (13-20) are reeling after losing four straight contests to the Suns, Kings, Hornets, and most recently against the Mavericks on Christmas.
The Lakeshow gave up 51 points in the third quarter, the most any team gave up in the NBA this season. L.A. went into the fourth quarter down 19, and Dallas had the flow of the game well within their grasp. The road trip losing streak and progress to making the playoffs have halted after Anthony Davis suffered a foot injury that’ll keep him out for at least another week.
The Lakers are now 13th in the West and looking for answers. Coming into the season with a new head coach in Darvin Ham, the plan was to play through AD more often and Ham decided that utilizing Russell Westbrook off the bench as a sixth man would be the best course of action after a tough first year in the purple-and-gold.
With the trade deadline quickly approaching, the Lakers are reportedly leaning towards standing pat and saving their draft capital for other deals, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Furthermore, Buha reports that the Lakers front office, led by Rob Pelinka, is weary of compounding their “previous mistakes with more win-now moves.”
Reinforcements via trade would obviously help, and the Lakers are still evaluating their options on a dormant trade market. At the same time, it becomes increasingly challenging to justify trading a first-round pick if the group continues to struggle. The front office doesn’t want to compound its previous mistakes with more win-now moves.
With that being said, the Lakers and Pelinka have plenty of time to contemplate the best course of action with the deadline set for Fed. 9. At 13-20, the Lakers are most likely headed towards a fight for the play-in tournament for the second time since LeBron James joined the Lakers during the 2018-2019 season. Since he joined, the Lakers have made the playoffs twice, winning their 19th championship in 2020.
Although James and Davis have played at a high level, the Lakers are still a top-heavy team. Their offense is ranked 20th in the League (111.6 offensive rating) and 20th in defense (113.6 defensive rating). Whatever moves they make must remedy their middling play on both ends. They will likely have to trim around the edges to make that happen; Westbrook, Davis, and James are all owed money that’s hard to move off their books.
The Lakers have a chance to stop the bleeding when they play the Magic on Tuesday.
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