The Los Angeles Lakers 2023-24 season is on the brink of collapse.
The Lakers fell to their Crypto.com co-tenants, the Clippers, last night 127-116 to fall to 22-23 on the season. While it was the Lakers’ first loss to the Clippers, they are now 11-17 against teams with a .500 or better record. Granted, the Lakers were without LeBron James due to a left ankle injury and is day-to-day, according to coach Darvin Ham.
Darvin Ham said LeBron, who’s out tonight, is “day to day” moving forward. They’re trying to be proactive with his ankle/health. The Lakers are 2-2 in the games he’s missed.
They’re expected to start Reaves, Russell, Prince, Hachimura and Davis in LeBron’s absence.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 24, 2024
However, Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Cam Reddish played well. The trio combined for 32 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists last night. They were also a combined 12 of 23 and 5 of 11 from beyond the arc. Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell also played well with each recording a double-double.
But Los Angeles’ defense continues to be an issue. The Lakers allowed the Clippers to shoot 59.1% from the field and nearly 52% from beyond the arc, as the Clippers canned 14 treys. The Clippers also scored 68 points in the paint and 22 fast-break points.
“Disappointed in the loss but happy with how our guys competed minus LeBron,” said Ham after the game.
Since December 24, L.A. has a 6-9 record as they are allowing 119.1 points a game. The Lakers have permitted their opponents to shoot nearly 49% from the field and 39% from the 3-point line over these 15 games. These numbers rank in the bottom one-third of the league during this stretch. Transition defense has been an issue all season and continues to be a problem for LA.
Reddish tweaked his right ankle during the loss but was healthy enough to return to the game.
Cam Reddish is heading to the locker room after coming down awkwardly on his leg making a defensive play against Harden. He's been dealing with knee and groin issues for the past several weeks, but had been looking far more healthy in the last 2 after missing the previous 3.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 24, 2024
Los Angeles sit tied for ninth-place in the Western Conference. LA is one-half game ahead of 11th-place Houston and one-and-a-half games clear of Golden State. The Lakers are being outscored by one point on the season. They have been outscored by double figures on 15 occasions.
Los Angeles Lakers Rumors: Lakers Could Tinker With Roster Prior To Trade Deadline Or Wait Until Summer, Who Are They Interested In?
Los Angeles is expected to make a deal or two before the trade deadline.
Loa Angeles has several issues, but according to The Athletic’s Jova Buha, “The buzz around the organization is that offense — particularly 3-point shooting and downhill athleticism — are the areas they hope to address within the next month…The Lakers need to add a player or two who gives their stagnant offense more verve.”
The Lakers have been linked to numerous players. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported yesterday that they are exploring several avenues on the trade market, with the Hawks’ Dejounte Murray arguably the biggest name on the wish list.
“We know we have a hell of a 1-2 punch with AD and Bron,” Ham told McMenamin. “And it’s just guys getting comfortable and being aggressive and not waiting for those two guys to do everything. Play your part, be supportive, but also be a threat yourself. Be deliberate. Be decisive. So we can help give those guys the support they need.”
Here’s more from McMenamin.
As Ham acknowledged, the reason this Lakers team is considered formidable is that James and Davis are healthy and have consistently played at a high level.
You can’t say the same for the players around them.
Dejounte Murray remains in the conversation, though. With Murray making $18.2 million this season, L.A. could save luxury tax money by acquiring him in a two-for-one trade. And should the Lakers get fully healthy, a two-for-one deal would be prudent beyond cap implications. They built their team with depth in mind to endure the 82-game season.
Per NBC Sports, Kurt Helin, L.A., and Atlanta have discussed a trade. In the latest version, the Hawks would send Murray to the Lakers for Russell, Jalen Hood-Schifino, a 2029 first-round pick, and a pick-swap (different versions include other Lakers and Hawks).
However, on Fanduel’s Run It Back show, Shams Charania of The Athletic said the Hawks want a third team in that trade because they don’t want Russell.
"The Lakers are doing their due diligence. Dejounte Murray, Bruce Brown Jr., Tyus Jones, Terry Rozier, I'm told those are names to keep an eye on."@ShamsCharania on the Los Angeles Lakers.
— Run It Back (@RunItBackFDTV) January 22, 2024
Who Else Are The Lakers Interested In?
As McMenamin and Charnia pointed out, while the Lakers seem most interested in doing a deal for Murray, they have other options.
The Lakers also reportedly want to add a backup point guard with Gabe Vincent remaining sidelined with a knee injury. Vincent is expected to be re-evaluated at the end of February after undergoing a successful arthroscopic surgical procedure on his left knee.
Collin Sexton, Tyus Jones, Dennis Schroder, Bruce Brown, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Andre Drummond are also on the Lakers’ wishlist. McMenamin added that the Lakers are not particularly interested in Miles Bridges due to his baggage and wouldn’t hold his Bird Rights. Additionally, Bridges is likely to sign a more lucrative contract elsewhere in the summer.
There is another option for L.A., which is gaining a lot of steam. Rather than swing for the fence now, the Lakers could make a minor deal to upgrade their ball-handling situation and wait for the summer. The Lakers may do that because they know this year’s squad is flawed, and a trade won’t likely do much. Also, the Lakers will have more draft capital this summer.
Los Angeles is only able to trade its 2029 first-round draft pick. However, when June 27 rolls around, the day of the 2024 draft, the Lakers can include their 2031 pick and either this year’s or next. The New Orleans Pelicans can take the Lakers 2024 or 2025 first-round choice.