The Los Angeles Lakers trade rumors are starting to be rampant as the team continues to go downhill this 2016-17 NBA regular season. A few prominent players were already linked to the purple and gold franchise, but the Philadelphia 76ers’ Jahlil Okafor is not one of them. It can be expected that he will be absent on the list of potential acquisitions for the squad as the speculations flourish.
Okafor had been a topic in Lakers trade rumors numerous times in the past. During the 2016 off-season, the Lakers were seeking to fill a void at center and the 21-year-old became an option. However, instead of completing a trade with the 76ers, they opted to sign Timofey Mozgov in free agency. Mozgov had great momentum, since he came from a triumphant championship run with the Cleveland Cavaliers. They also selected Ivica Zubac with the 32nd pick in last year’s draft. To complete the cast at the No. 5 position, they re-signed Tarik Black in August.
As of the moment, Okafor is one of the hottest names in trade rumors. He is being connected to several teams like the Chicago Bulls and the Portland Trail Blazers. If this was last year, the Lakers could have been among the organizations interested in the young big man, but that is not the case this time around. HoopsHype writer Alex Kennedy tweeted recently that when the 76ers were telling Okafor about the current trade talks, the Lakers were not included. Joining the Bulls and the Blazers are the New Orleans Pelicans and the Denver Nuggets, who also have him on their radars.
Looking at the present roster of the Lakers, they have enough centers with Mozgov, Zubac, and Black. There are even times when Thomas Robinson, who is originally a power forward, plays at the position. Perhaps this is the reason why they are no longer eyeing Okafor as a trade target. He would be a great addition because of his scoring ability in the paint, although having him on the team creates a logjam at center. This is the same reason why the 76ers are trying to deal him or Nerlens Noel away. They also have too many big men and dividing the minutes for each of them is a problem for coach Brett Brown.
Maybe another reason why the Lakers are ditching trade rumors including Okafor is because they already have a young emerging center in Zubac. In some of their previous games, the rookie showed tremendous potential. Since becoming a regular in Luke Walton’s main rotation last month, the 19-year-old has recorded three triple-doubles for Los Angeles.
The Lakers trade rumors will likely increase as the February 23 deadline nears. Especially now that it appears team GM Mitch Kupchak is more willing to pull off a trade, as reported by SB Nation’s Silver Screen & Roll. A few months ago, Kupchak sounded confident every time he spoke about the team. The Lakers had a terrific start for an underdog squad and scored huge wins. Unfortunately, they struggled as their campaign progressed. They began losing close games and blew big leads, which led to defeats as well. As of this moment, they are 14th in the Western Conference with a 19-37 record, eight games behind the No. 8 spot which belongs to the Denver Nuggets.
A major factor that might have changed Kupchak’s mindset when it comes to a trade is the recent hiring of Lakers and NBA legend Magic Johnson as an adviser. The 57-year-old wants to help the entire organization, and in a report by the Los Angeles Times, he is looking to be the man that makes the final decisions for the franchise.
[Featured Image by Matt Slocum/AP Images]