The Los Angeles Lakers must have a clear goal in mind for the rest of the season. Do they fight for the playoffs or for a pick?
Currently, the Lakers are still in playoff contention despite injuries to D’Angelo Williams and inconsistent play from Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, and Brandon Ingram. Julius Randle, Nick Young, Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams have provided a spark but there needs to be some help on the way. The Lakers are roughly 5-6 games out of the 8th spot in the Western Conference, now is the time to decided which direction they want to go in.
If the Lakers fail to make the playoffs they will have to pray to the NBA Draft Gods that their ping-pong balls land in the top 3. If not then their pick will end up in the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers. How heartbreaking would that be to finish in the 4th-11th spot only to lose that pick? This is why they must get their act together and play their best ball of the season.
What the Lakers can do to assure themselves of a playoff berth will be to make a major trade. I’m not talking a Jose Calderon or Tarik Black type deal, I mean a Jordan Clarkson or Russell deal. A deal has to be made that will push this team over that hump and the only way to do that is to dangle some of their top talents out there and see who bites.
Normally, I would place Deng in the mix but with his play this season there’s no telling who’s willing to take a flyer on him and that huge salary. That leaves the young guys twisting in the wind. I’m sorry Lakers fans but the truth hurts. The team is right there, all they need is that extra push. With reports that the Chicago Bulls may be interested in a Jimmy Butler deal and Rajon Rondo deal, the Lakers have the necessary tools to pull this trade off. The Bulls wish to get younger and the Lakers are looking for someone who can put the ball in the basket on a consistent basis.
I know some fans will not wish to lose a player like Clarkson or Russell but Butler is a proven player and All-Star. If they do not wish to bring in any more perimeter players then maybe an offensive center like Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets will get the job done. The Nets are draft pick empty thanks to the Boston Celtics and a player like Ingram and Russell will look great on a Nets team that’s in the middle of a rebuild.
There are options out there for the Lakers but it will take a gutsy call from the Buss family to get them where they need to be. It’s either trade to win or lose and pray.