Report: Lakers ‘focused on internal improvement’ as their interest in Zach LaVine gets murky update

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Recent rumors have linked the Los Angeles Lakers to Chicago Bulls star guard Zach LaVine.

Lakers insider Jovan Buha reported that the team’s interest in the shooting guard is “real,” and Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports reported that Los Angeles is among LaVine’s preferred landing spots along with the Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs.

But despite the rumors connecting LaVine and the Lakers, Los Angeles is reportedly focused on internal improvement rather than external.

“Philadelphia’s interest in LaVine has been overstated, as covered here, while I’ve been advised that the Lakers’ reported interest at this early juncture of the season is best described (at most) as TBD,” wrote Marc Stein.

The Lakers are hoping that getting back some key players will give them a “meaningful boost.”

“I’m told the Lakers, at present, are focused on internal improvement, hopeful that getting Jarred Vanderbilt (who is ineligible to be traded this season after signing an extension with the Lakers in September) and [Gabe] Vincent back on the floor regularly will give them a meaningful boost,” Stein wrote.

Vanderbilt is dealing with a heel injury at the moment and has yet to take the floor for the Lakers in the 2023-24 regular season.

Vincent, meanwhile, has been sidelined since Oct. 30 with a knee injury. He didn’t get off to a great start to his Lakers career before getting injured. He’s averaging 6.0 points, 1.0 rebound and 3.0 assists per game while shooting a subpar 39.3 percent from the field and 7.1 percent from behind the 3-point arc in four appearances with Los Angeles this season.

The Lakers have played great basketball as of late, however, even without Vanderbilt and Vincent in the lineup. After having a 3-5 record following their loss to the Houston Rockets on Nov. 8, the Lakers have won five out of their last six games and now own an 8-6 record, which is currently the sixth-best record in the Western Conference.

Los Angeles is fresh off an impressive win against Dillon Brooks and the Rockets on Sunday. The Lakers’ star duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis dominated against Houston. The former recorded 37 points, six rebounds, eight assists and three steals, while the latter finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block.

Plus, James and Davis combined to shoot 25-of-34 from the field.

For as well as the Lakers have been playing the last few weeks, they are a better team on paper with Vanderbilt and Vincent on the floor and healthy. Vanderbilt is one of the better defensive players on the roster, and Vincent adds value thanks to his ability to stretch the floor.

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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.