LeBron James was signed by the Los Angeles Lakers before the 2018-19 season. The Lakers would go 37-45 that year before putting a few more pieces together. Anthony Davis came along the next year and the Lakers would an NBA title in a COVID-shortened season.
Since then…the Lakers have been a huge disappointment. Through Dec. 29, the Lakers are 89-100 since winning that NBA championship. They started this season 2-10 and with a 14-21 record currently, the Lakers are in 13th place in the Western Conference standings.
To make matters worse, Davis is out of the lineup and will not return until sometime in January. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If the Lakers want to do it right, it’s time to move on from the current roster and rebuild. It won’t be easy.
The Lakers missed the postseason last year and will likely miss again this season. They are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA this year. Currently, they rank 27th in points allowed per game at 117.6 and they are No. 24 in Defensive Rating. Without Davis in the lineup, Los Angeles allows 123.6 points per game and their Defensive Rating is 10 points worse.
Los Angeles plays at the fourth-fastest pace in the NBA. That’s crazy when you think about James just turning 38 years old. Westbrook is 34 and Davis turns 30 in March. The Lakers roster is aging and they need to do something about it…and fast!
First Round Picks
The Lakers do not control their first-round draft pick in 2023. The pick is controlled by New Orleans as part of the deal that brought Davis to Los Angeles. That means the Lakers need to make some trades in order to acquire at least one first-round draft pick. That would give them some opportunities to trade for an upper-echelon star or acquire more draft picks.
Also, the Lakers probably need to work a deal with a team that is headed toward the draft lottery. That won’t be easy either as those teams tend to want to keep their golden ticket.
Westbrook Has to Go
The Lakers’ biggest mistake before this season was not trading Russell Westbrook. LA now has a $47 million sixth man who scores 15 points a game. Westbrook is 34 years old and his style of play doesn’t really fit what the Lakers were trying to do with James and Davis.
The problem with trading Westbrook is that no one really wants an overpriced, old, point guard when there are plenty of better options out there.
The James Problem
James signed a new two-year contract extension which keeps him in LA through the 2024-25 season. He cannot opt-out until prior to the ’24-’25 season and he can’t be traded just yet. James cannot be traded this season, which leaves the Lakers with only one real option. They will have to trade Davis to begin the rebuild.
The Lakers aren’t likely to get much for Westbrook, if anything, but Davis could command a player like… Kevin Durant, for example. There have been some rumblings about a Davis-to-Phoenix deal that would bring Deandre Ayton, Jae Crowder, and two first-round picks to L.A.
It’s really the Lakers’ only play and they need to consider making the move soon. This season is headed toward another disaster.
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