Recent rumors are out that the Los Angeles Lakers are more likely to “stay put” and avoid any major deals ahead of this year’s NBA trade deadline. The team has reportedly shifted its focus to the 2019 free-agency period rather than making a splash this summer.
Previous reports said that the Lakers will be looking to sign two max player free agents in the upcoming offseason, with big names such as Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, and LeBron James all rumored to be in play. There were also reports indicating that the team intends to trade Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., and Luol Deng before the deadline in hopes of freeing as much salary cap space as possible to achieve their 2018 free-agency goals.
However, all of those assumptions seemed to have been voided after an ESPN report from Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski said that the Lakers are “recalibrating” their efforts to pursue top free agents in 2019 when the likes of Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, and Kawhi Leonard will become available.
The report said that the Lakers are becoming “more realistic about the franchise’s chances of snaring superstars” this year and is “increasingly looking through a longer lens in its team building process.”
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 6, 2018
The report also noted that the Hollywood squad wanted to relieve the pressure of just having to dump contracts without a solid return and to avoid making wrong moves by trading away precious future draft picks like what they did in previous years.
Waiting for another year will also allow the Lakers to further improve their young core of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma, which would help attract any of the superstars mentioned above.
SB Nation‘s Silver Screen & Roll reported that the Lakers have the “option of standing pat across the board and continuing to grow the core they already have,” which could be the team’s most likely path, according to GM Rob Pelinka.
Pelinka said that the Lakers would probably “stay the course” with the roster that they currently have if no opportunity to get “a megastar or free agent that can change things immediately” comes along.
“And if there’s things this trade deadline that help us take steps up the mountain on that journey, we’ll absolutely do them. But if those things don’t present itself, then we’ll stay the course with what we have.”
Speculations have continued that the Dallas Mavericks are still interested in trading for Randle while Clarkson was linked to the Detroit Pistons for Avery Bradley until the former Celtic was moved to the Los Angeles Clippers in the recent Blake Griffin trade.
Meanwhile, Deng’s albatross of a contract ($36 million remaining) continues to be a burden for the Lakers’ cap space. There are rumors that if the team fails to trade him by the deadline, then they might utilize the waive-and-stretch provision to manage Deng’s deal.