The Los Angeles Lakers advanced to the championship game of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament by defeating the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night, but that hasn’t stopped the team from being mentioned in trade chatter.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Lakers are looking to see what they have on the roster before jumping into any deal.
“The Lakers want to see what they really have before wading into trade talks, league sources say,” Lowe wrote.
It makes sense, especially since the Lakers haven’t really been fully healthy all season long. Forward Jarred Vanderbilt just recently made his season debut after missing the first chunk of the 2023-24 campaign with a heel injury, and forward Rui Hachimura has been in and out of the lineup due to injuries of his own.
The team is also without guard Gabe Vincent at the moment, who was one of the Lakers’ bigger offseason additions. In fact, Vincent and Vanderbilt haven’t both been healthy at the same time at any point this season, so the Lakers haven’t even played a single game at full strength.
“The sense around the league is that the Lakers are wary of boosting their weak half (offense) at the expense of their defense (and their cap sheet) in any potential LaVine deals,” Lowe wrote.
The Lakers currently have the No. 7 defensive rating in the NBA this season, and it seems that the team may not want to sacrifice that simply to add a scorer like LaVine.
LaVine is averaging 21.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game this season for the Bulls, but the team has actually fared better when he hasn’t been on the floor. Chicago is 3-1 when LaVine is out of the lineup this season.
The Bulls record with Zach LaVine: 5-13
The Bulls record without Zach LaVine: 3-1 pic.twitter.com/Q2xVFHKKhs
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) December 7, 2023
The Lakers added a third star in Russell Westbrook alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis multiple seasons ago, but it did not work out like the team expected. Los Angeles traded away a ton of depth to acquire Westbrook, and the former league MVP didn’t mesh well enough with Davis and James for the team to compete for a title.
Los Angeles may be wary that history could repeat itself, so it appears the team is looking to be patient in the trade market in the 2023-24 season.