The floundering 26-30 Los Angeles Lakers stood pat at the trade deadline. General Manager Rob Pelinka said, “we just didn’t find a deal that we felt made sense,” looking at both the short and longer term. When asked about the feelings of his stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis concerning that decision, Pelinka said:
“[I] had conversations with LeBron and Anthony about it and I would say there’s alignment here. And that’s all that matters.”
Or, maybe there wasn’t so much alignment, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, speaking on their NBA Today show.
Dave McMenamin on what went on behind the scenes for the Lakers on Trade Deadline Day.
— 𝙏𝙖𝙡𝙠𝙞𝙣’ 𝙉𝘽𝘼 🗣️ (@_Talkin_NBA) February 11, 2022
“I am told from a source familiar with LeBron and Anthony’s thinking that is ‘totally false.’ That there was no conversation between Rob Pelinka and LeBron and Anthony Davis on Thursday. There was no go ahead of an okay to have inaction at the deadline.”
First, maybe it’s best not to have LeBron and Davis as the defacto Lakers’ GMs — they were the ones that pushed hard to trade for Russell Westbrook last offseason.
Second, from what we know — and what I’ve heard was available to the Lakers from league sources — Pelinka made the right call.
The Lakers, losers of 6-of-8 and headed for the play-in again, are not a good team. However, the first rule of climbing out of a hole is to stop digging, and every trade option on the table for the Lakers — including a Westbrook for John Wall trade — made the Lakers marginally better at best, at the cost of a valuable first-round pick in 2027. The Lakers did have extensive discussions with the Knicks and Raptors about a three-team trade that would have brought promising wing Cam Reddish to the Lakers. However, this is still a player Atlanta was very willing to trade and now can’t get off Tom Thibodeau’s bench in New York. The cost was that first-round pick, and in a year the Lakers would have had to pay Reddish good money to stay as a restricted free agent.
It’s a lot to give up to be marginally better. Every offer on the table was similar, a steep price for a player/players that likely doesn’t get the Lakers out of the play-in and certainly doesn’t make them a postseason threat to the top of the West.
Los Angeles is better off waiting until this summer, when they will have two picks available for trade (2027 and 2029), and see how they can turn things around. A better Westbrook trade may be available then.
However, patience has never been the way of the Lakers, their fan base, or LeBron. This was bound to lead to tension. Losing does that.