The Lakers are not content to just play out their worst season since moving to Los Angeles. (Yes, even worse than last year.)
They’re going to talk trade – and make sure you know they’re talking trade.
There was the pursuit of Rajon Rondo, an offer just good enough to look serious but clearly short of the Mavericks’ package. It never made sense for the Lakers to trade for Rondo, because they could just chase him in free agency after this lost season, but it seems they want their fans to know they’re trying.
They’re still trying to tell their fans they’re trying.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
It’d make no sense for the Lakers to trade for Greg Monroe. They wouldn’t get his Bird rights, so why not just sign him as an unrestricted free agent this summer? The Lakers could offer him the same contract whether or not they deal for him this season. There are only two rationales for making a Monroe trade now:
1. The Lakers want to use him this season to win. That’d upset Magic Johnson – and common sense, no matter what Jeanie Buss says. The Lakers’ best course is to tank enough to keep the top-five protected pick they owe the Suns, hope they strike gold in free agency and then ideally convey Phoenix a much lower pick in 2016.
2. The Lakers want to use the rest of the season to sell Monroe on Los Angeles. Even if adding to the roster sooner won’t change the contract they can offer him in the summer, they could have an opportunity to impress Monroe before any other suitors. However, given the way the Lakers’ season is going, they should probably want Monroe to see as little as possible in advance.
It makes a little more sense, emphasis on little, for the Lakers to trade for Jennings, who’s under contract for next season. He has has been instrumental in the Pistons post-Josh Smith turnaround. If Detroit deals Jennings, it’d clearly be taking a step back. Jennings is the best point guard on either the Pistons or Lakers.
Stan Van Gundy initially talked of a long-term view before his team won seven straight immediately after dropping Smith. That unexpected success has changed the team’s direction, but it doesn’t preclude the Pistons from selling off their parts. It’s not as if they’re anywhere near a playoff lock.
That said, why would the Lakers want Jennings now? Anything he provides this season is for naught, and though he’s under contract for an affordable $8,344,497 next season, the Lakers play in a market where they can target bigger free agents. Jennings would just cut into the Lakers’ cap space.
Essentially, there’s little reason Jennings should have more value to the Lakers than he does to the Pistons. But if the Lakers have an unreasonably high opinion of Jennings, the Pistons should at least listen.