Sun. May 28th, 2023

With each passing day, the chances of the Lakers making a significant trade this season feel more unlikely. It’s pretty clear that Rob Pelinka doesn’t believe the potential additions of Buddy Hield and/or Myles Turner from Indiana would be enough to vault the Lakers into contention. He’s probably right. But there’s a reasonable line of thinking that even an outside shot is worth taking when you have LeBron James on your roster. Especially in his 20th season. 

At this point, the Lakers’ plan might very well be to limp through the rest of the season and go into the summer with near-max cap space, their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in their pocket (and a 2023 first-round pick that will be eligible to trade on draft night, once a pick swap is executed with New Orleans), and Russell Westbrook off the books. 

LeBron, for his part, reportedly isn’t too keen on this plan of procrastination. According to Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes, James “does not want to waste a season of his high-level playing days in hopes of incoming reinforcements for the 2023-24 campaign.” This is understandable. LeBron is still playing at a championship level, his early season shooting struggles notwithstanding. But realistically, how much longer can that be the case?

Recently there have been some rumblings — a social media “talking point,” as Haynes calls it — that the Lakers might be open to trading Anthony Davis. According to Haynes, that’s not an option the Lakers are considering at this point. 

And while it’s been a talking point on social media, the Lakers are not considering trading Davis, according to sources. For any dialogue of that nature to occur, his agent, Rich Paul, would have received calls from interested teams inquiring if Davis would agree to an extension if they traded for him. Those conversations have not taken place, sources say.

The last piece of news that Haynes included in his report was that the Lakers are actually getting inquiries from opposing teams as to the availability of Russell Westbrook. 

With Russell Westbrook thriving in his new role as a sixth man, the Lakers are now receiving calls about his availability, sources say, but talks are not at a serious stage.

Uh, let me help you out with this one. Yes, Russell Westbrook is available. Hilarious. I’m putting this last because this feels like nothing more than a half-hearted, completely see-through attempt by the Lakers to drum up some kind of false leverage as they continue to hope they can send Westbrook elsewhere without having to eat a two-draft-pick tax. Hey, everyone, teams are calling about wants Russ! They love his play off the bench! You better come get him while he’s still available!

Yeah, right. I’m sure fellow GMs are blowing up Pelinka’s phone to inquire about the services of a $47 million sixth man who has played well for about a week. Stop it. The only way a team is taking Westbrook is if he comes with a draft pick or probably two. 

And so, to summarize, LeBron doesn’t want the Lakers to punt on this season, but as of now they don’t intend to trade Davis, who realistically is the only viable trade asset on the current roster, and they’re resorting to dumping this laughable news that Westbrook is suddenly a hot item. I’ll say again, the chances that the Lakers don’t make a significant trade this season and choose to instead limp into the summer are looking likelier by the day, despite what James understandably wants. 

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