Jarred Vanderbilt is easily the Laker’s best perimeter and point-of-attack defender. During the Los Angeles Lakers Western Conference playoff run last season, Vanderbilt, standing at six foot nine with over a seven-foot wingspan, drew many matchups against All-star caliber point guards such as Steph Curry and Jamal Murray. Losing arguably the most valuable defensive piece besides Anthony Davis creates an enormous need for the Lakers, who were already in desperate need of three-point shooting, considering they currently attempt the lowest number of threes per game at 30.4 and make the second fewest threes, only ahead of the 6-41 Detroit Pistons. So far, LeBron James and the Lakers are sitting at just above .500, with the February 8th trade deadline a little under a week away. The Lakers only have one first-round pick they could trade, which is in the 2029 draft, and the only tangible assets are Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell, and Rui Hachimura, who have all been in several trade rumors so far. With the trade deadline coming, LeBron James is putting pressure on the franchise to shake up the roster.
After back-to-back blowout road losses against the Houston Rockets and the Atlanta Hawks, the Los Angeles Lakers got a much-needed 114-105 win over the Boston Celtics on Thursday night in TD Garden, which may have been the last action for a power forward Jarred Vanderbilt’s season, the Lakers defensive wing Jarred Vanderbilt left the game due to An Achilles injury suffered before halftime but put up an impressive stat line of 10 points, shooting two of three from downtown, with seven rebounds and three steals in only 16 minutes. The injury is severe, considering the Lakers have already ruled Vanderbilt out for several weeks. It may not be season-ending, or the team would have informed the media. Jovan Buha, a Lakers insider for The Athletic, recently posted a potential timeline on when more will be understood about Vanderbilt’s injury and how the team will proceed.
Three Team Trade Lands Lakers Dejounte Murray
The prominent rumor surrounding the Lakers all year has been a swap of D’Angelo Russell for Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray. NBA Insider Shams Charania maintained that “Dejounte Murray is going to continue to emerge as the top target for the Lakers from what I am told, the sides, I expect talks to resume before the deadline next Thursday.” The Hawks’ holdup in the trade has been an unwillingness to take back DLo, which the fans let him know, too, as Russell recently struggled in Atlanta, only having nine points on the night with five assists and two turnovers. On the other hand, Dejounte Murray had 24 points and nine assists for the Hawks in the blowout win over the Lakers.
However, recent reports suggest the Nets may be looking for a reunion, which could bring Russell back to Brooklyn to boost their offense. Russell was an All-Star in the 2018-2019 NBA season with the Brooklyn Nets and could take over for Dinwiddie, who has struggled as the leading ball handler and distributor for the Nets. ESPN NBA analyst Kevin Pelton proposed this three-team trade, sending Murray to form a big three in LA with LeBron and Anthony Davis.
Lakers Reunite Russell with Nets for Wing Defense
This trade for the Lakers adds multiple defensive wings and three-point shooters in Royce O’Neal, who averages 7 points per game, and Dorian Finney Smith, who averages 9 points per game. Both shooting nearly 40 percent from deep but are excellent lengthy wing defenders similar to Vanderbilt. The Lakers would also bring back Lonnie Walker, who is averaging 12 points on a career-high 43% from three. The athletic shotmaker started 32 games for the Lakers last year and a 15-point fourth quarter in a playoff game against the Warriors to give the Lakers a 3-1 lead.
Lakers Keep Core in Trade with Wizards
This trade is the best upgrade the Lakers can make without trading any premium assets such as Rui, Reaves, D’Angelo Russell, or the coveted 2029 Lakers first-round pick. Tyus Jones is an excellent starting point guard in the league. He won’t dazzle fans much but has a consistency and efficiency to his game that all basketball coaches love; along with having the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the league, Jones also shoots 50% from the field and 40% percent from deep while averaging 12 points and six assists per game.
Former Western Conference Competitor Joins Lakers
The Lakers were looking to add Bruce Brown in free agency this offseason after facing off against Brown in the Western Conference Finals, where Brown would be a key piece in the Denver Nuggets championship. The Lakers were still attached to Brown when he was dealt recently to Toronto for Pascal Siakam. Brown would be an excellent guard to pair with Reaves, able to keep up with quicker point guards and strong enough to defend larger forwards.
Lakers Take Big Swing on LA Native
The most interesting “what-if” trade scenario could reunite Kyle Lowry with his former teammate and Los Angeles native Demar DeRozan. As stated in a recent report by Athletic, Kyle Lowry is considered a “name to watch” for the Lakers if he receives a buyout from the Charlotte Hornets. Luckily for the Lakers, seven contending teams are unable to sign Lowry due to the new CBA rules.
The two veterans would make sense with a win-now Lakers team with an aging superstar in Lebron James, while Chicago gets assets back before DeRozan walks in the offseason. Lakers fan-favorite Alex Caruso, an excellent perimeter defender, is the most essential factor in this trade. The Lakers would give up almost all their assets in young players and offseason trade opportunities. Still, they would add the two stand-out Bulls players and Kyle Lowry from the buyout market, assuming that is the direction the Hornets take with Lowry. The difficulty in getting these trades done will be the Lakers’ unwillingness to include undrafted up-and-comer Austin Reaves, the lack of draft capital, and the Chicago Bulls’ ultimately demanding too much in return. However, this may have changed with recent news of losing Zack LaVine to season-ending surgery.