With only five wins over the 15-game period that LeBron James has missed due to a groin injury, the Los Angeles Lakers remain stuck in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with a 25-24 record. This could point to some roster moves ahead of the February 7 trade deadline — either a big trade that could bring in a second superstar to team up with James, or a simpler one, possibly involving a role player who could shoot from outside.
Writing for the subscriber-only publication the Athletic on Friday, Bill Oram wrote that the Lakers are likely facing greater pressure to make changes to their roster following their most recent loss to the 11th-ranked Minnesota Timberwolves. As cited by CBS Sports, this could either mean making a trade that “shores up the current roster” and increases their chances of making the playoffs, or a bigger, “blockbuster” type of deal that could give them another established superstar.
According to CBS Sports, the latter type of trade could presumably involve New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, who has been at the center of Lakers trade rumors for the past several months. But regardless of which superstar Los Angeles goes for, the Athletic‘s Oram noted that the team is now willing to trade at least one player from their young core — Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and/or Lonzo Ball — in order to acquire such an established star.
As for the other deal the Los Angeles Lakers could pursue ahead of the trade deadline, Oram didn’t go into much detail, but wrote that the team could target a skilled three-point shooter on an expiring contract, per Bleacher Report. Furthermore, he added that the Lakers are open to parting ways with some of the veterans they signed or re-signed to one-year contracts in the 2018 offseason, meaning players like guards Lance Stephenson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and forward Michael Beasley.
Aside from LeBron James, who has missed close to a month of action after suffering a groin strain during the Lakers’ Christmas Day game against the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles is playing without Lonzo Ball, who went down with an ankle sprain on Saturday and is likely to miss four to six weeks. As of this writing, the Lakers are 1.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers (26-22) in the Western Conference.
While Bleacher Report agreed with Oram’s report for the Athletic and opined that the Lakers’ roster could benefit from some changes if they want to make the playoffs this season, the publication added that team president Magic Johnson could also afford to be patient, given how James is in the first year of a four-year contract. This could mean waiting until the summer of 2019 before making a “big splash” and finally giving James a second superstar to team with.