The Los Angeles Lakers are approaching the midpoint of the season in a place they didn’t expect, sitting at 20-19 which is only good for seventh in the West, meaning they would find themselves in the play-in if they don’t improve their standing over the next 43 games.
The good news of course, is they have half of the season to turn things around, but to do so it has become pretty clear that there need to be changes made to the roster. Making major changes is going to be difficult simply because they don’t have a lot of players that make more than the minimum since they have three max contracts, two of which are untouchable in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and the other is the recently acquired Russell Westbrook who, despite the Lakers seemingly having interest in potentially moving on quickly from the former MVP, is incredibly difficult to trade because of his contract.
That leaves a lot of smaller moves as the only real chance to shuffle the roster, both in trying to swap in new role players via trades and also clearing roster spots to be players on the buyout market. They already dumped Rajon Rondo in a three-team deal that sent Rondo to the Cavs and Denzel Valentine to the Knicks, who waived him with some cash the Lakers sent them to save them some luxury tax money. Two more veterans appear to be next on the Lakers trade list, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports hearing from other teams that the Lakers are actively shopping DeAndre Jordan in an effort to create another roster spot and are willing to part with Kent Bazemore as well.
Windhorst says the Lakers are looking to trade DeAndre Jordan and Kent Bazemore pic.twitter.com/K37ktOtGeJ
— pickuphoop (@pickuphoop) January 5, 2022
Jordan has not been effective despite opening the season in the starting lineup, and as the Lakers have moved away from playing as many big lineups, they seem ready to swap Jordan out for a buyout market spot (or the ability to add two players for one, or three for two, in a trade). Bazemore likewise was a starter early in the season, but has struggled mightily to produce in L.A. and the Lakers would apparently be willing to move him out of town to get someone else in to try and find a consistent contributor.
These all seem like the kinds of moves that would be appetizers for something else, as Talen Horton-Tucker is, by far, the biggest asset on the Lakers who, when paired with Kendrick Nunn’s deal, makes up the only real opportunity to acquire something more than a vet minimum talent. We’ll see if they’re able to make something happen with those two, but if nothing else, Lakers fans can expect to see some more vets shuttled out of town as the Lakers will look to take a spin around the buyout market in February.