Report: Lakers expected to look for ‘difference-making’ perimeter talent in summer

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers will reportedly scour the NBA for a “difference-making” perimeter player once the summer rolls around.

“The playoffs always inform the offseason,” Zach Lowe wrote. “Everything I’ve heard for five years suggests James would prefer to finish his career as a Laker. Is that absolute? Who knows. There could be some breaking point at which the Lakers fall so far that James begins to look elsewhere. But the Lakers have one title and a conference finals appearance over the past four seasons. They will be able to trade three first-round picks this summer, and league sources expect them to search for a difference-making perimeter talent. That does not mean the [Golden State] Warriors will give up their pursuit of James.”

Los Angeles was linked to two talented guards in Zach LaVine and Dejounte Murray prior to the trade deadline — which passed earlier this month — but the Lakers opted not to make a move for either player. The former is out for the 2023-24 regular season after playing in just 25 games for the Chicago Bulls and averaging 19.5 points per game.

As for Murray, he is averaging 21.4 points per game with the Atlanta Hawks organization and has been much more durable than LaVine, considering he has missed just three games with the team so far.

Arguably the Lakers’ two best guards right now are Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell. Starting with Reaves, he is having a career year after agreeing to a four-year extension to remain in Los Angeles in the 2023 offseason. He is putting up career-highs in points (15.8) and assists per game (5.4) while shooting 49.0 percent from the floor and 36.5 percent from deep across 56 games played with the Lakers this season.

Russell — who has also played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors — is also arguably enjoying one of the better seasons of his NBA career. He is averaging 17.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game in his fourth season as a member of the decorated Lakers franchise.

Both Reaves and Russell came to play against the Utah Jazz on Feb. 14 in what was the team’s final game before the All-Star break. The former ended up with 22 points, four rebounds, seven assists and three steals, while the latter totaled 11 points, nine rebounds, 17 assists and one steal while shooting 4-of-8 from the field and 0-of-1 from 3-point range.

If Russell and Reaves can sustain their levels of play after the All-Star break, perhaps that will be enough to convince the Lakers that they don’t need to add another perimeter talent in the offseason.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.