Exactly what will the Los Angeles Lakers do with leading scorer Lou Williams before the NBA trade deadline expires on Thursday, Feb. 23? The 3 p.m. ET trade deadline leaves the Lakers in a bit of a hurry with just a couple days left to decide if they want to trade their top scorer.
Having a Lakers trade of Williams makes a lot of sense for the future of their franchise. Entering the NBA All-Star break with next-to-last place in the Western Conference at 19-39 overall, a Lakers trade of the 30-year-old Williams will be what is best for this franchise.
Williams is a fine player who will contribute to any NBA team that would work out a trade with the Lakers. As the shooting guard of the Lakers, Williams is averaging 18.6 points per game with an average of 24 minutes played in 58 games played this NBA season. The Lakers would be better off without him in the long run if they were to trade Williams to a team who could use his services for a playoff push, and Williams doesn’t need to be stuck on a rebuilding roster as young as the Lakers are this season.
One team that reportedly has an interest in a Lakers trade for Williams are the Washington Wizards. Zach Lowe of ESPN.com wrote this about a potential Lakers trade of Williams to the Wizards.
“Wait out the Lakers, and Washington might be able to get Williams for a couple of second-rounders.”
Some teams, including the Wizards, might be willing to give a first-round pick to the Lakers in a trade of Williams, but even two second-round choices, with the youth the Lakers have on their roster, would work out well for them. They could draft players with those picks or put them in a trade package this offseason for a player than can help them in their rebuild.
Another outlook on a potential Lakers trade of Williams came from Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk.com. In his article, Feldman refers to Williams as “flying under the radar:”
“He’s locked in for a bargain $7 million next season. So, his more-than-just-a-rental status could help the Lakers land a first-round pick.”
That is the beauty of a Lakers trade of Williams — his contract. His contract is in fact “a bargain” for NBA standards in that it could indeed bring the Lakers a first-round choice in a trade before the Thursday deadline.
Which team besides the Wizards are being said to be interested in a Lakers trade for the sixth man Williams? What about the Utah Jazz? The Jazz is fifth in the Western Conference at 35-22 and are on the verge of reaching the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season. Utah hasn’t won a playoff game since the 2009-10 season, so giving up a first round or a collection of second rounders if possible wouldn’t be so bad for the Jazz.
Gordon Heyward leads the Jazz in scoring at 22.2 ppg, and the addition of Williams to their roster via a Lakers trade would give the Jazz five players averaging double figures this season, though it could be Williams’ numbers would drop in any trade he is involved in.
When it comes to a Lakers trade, just how many players are safe on the roster? When a franchise is rebuilding, the Lakers have to do what they think is best for them for future seasons and not right now. The Lakers don’t need wins this season, they need to see what players on their roster can bring to the franchise next season. Keeping Williams or even Nick Young might not be what is best for the Lakers to become what they once were.
Once the Lakers work out their front office this offseason (they released General Manager Mitch Kupchak on Tuesday), they can really begin to work on what path needs to be taken for them to get back to the playoffs.
A Lakers trade of Williams is what is best for the franchise in the future, but it will lead to more losses this season, and that’s fine. Losses right now could mean a better path toward a top draft selection, and that would mean, possibly, a better future for the Lakers.
[Featured Image by Harry How/Getty Images]