The question for the NBA trade rumor season for the Los Angeles Lakers is will they make a deal for a potential up-and-coming superstar or play the wait-and-see game in the next couple months as they continue to rebuild their once-successful franchise?
Headed into their Christmas Day game with the Lakers facing the Los Angeles Clippers, the rebuilding Lakers team are sure to be spoken of when it consists of their next step and if they will in fact be involved in some sort of NBA trade this season before the deadline in the next couple months.
One player who the Lakers could end up adding to their roster is 2015 first-round pick Jahlil Okafor of the Philadelphia 76ers. An addition through a trade for the 21-year-old Okafor could allow the Lakers to trade the $16 million contract of Timofey Mozgov, and possibly come away with a better overall player in the long run.
Okafor of the 76ers averages 11.5 points, along with five rebounds and nearly two blocks per game, on a team that is 7-22 overall. For comparison with Mozgov of the Lakers, he is averaging 7.9 ppg., while also averaging 5.1 rpg. and less than a block per game.
Of course, a Lakers trade of Mozgov to the 76ers for Okafor would (or at least should) include someone other than Mozgov because of the contract he brings with him, but maybe there is another team in the league willing to take on that type of money.
The question for the 76ers is are they willing to trade Okafor? He’s not coming off one of his better games this week, and Philadelphia does have a surplus of big men on their roster, including Nerlens Noel, who has also been the subject of many NBA trade rumors, including a possibility of joining the Lakers this season.
Following a game this week, Philly.com compared the two big men who have been involved in NBA trade talks in an article by Keith Pompey.
“While Okafor finished the game with just one foul, he struggled mightily defending in the post. And rim protection is perhaps Noel’s best asset.”
Without question, Okafor brings a lot of potential to any roster – especially the Lakers – that he joins, but are the 76ers expecting too much too soon from a young player such as the former Duke standout? The NBA trade circus is just that, but as with any trade, what teams want and what they receive in return could be two entirely different outcomes.
With Okafor, a team like the Lakers would feel an improvement at center, and with that, they are in a better rebuild situation right now than the 76ers currently are.
When thinking of this possible trade scenario by the Lakers for Okafor, one must look back at the past great teams built by the Lakers. Besides having a superstar player like Magic Johnson or Kobe Bryant who could take over any game, the Lakers championship teams always had a dominating big man. The “Showtime Lakers” of the 1980s had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the Lakers of the 2000s had Shaquille O’Neal in the middle.
It isn’t being said Okafor is the next Kareem or Shaq, but he would help the Lakers more right now in the present and more importantly in the long term than who they have on the roster right now.
It will most likely take a good amount of talent mixed with a draft pick for the Lakers to gain a player like Okafor if they are even interested. Being the third overall pick in 2015, and being in his very early 20s, Okafor just brings more hope and value to a roster.
He’d fit in very nicely with a young roster like the Lakers where he would be the No. 1 big man and not have to compete with players like Noel or Joel Embiid for playing time, but again, this is just another NBA trade rumor for the Lakers, something they will be involved with until the deadline passes in February.
[Featured Image by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]