The Los Angeles Lakers fell to 2-9 on the season with their second loss of the season to the Clippers on Wednesday night in L.A., moving into sole possession of the NBA’s second worst record with the loss — only the Houston Rockets (2-10) have been worse.
Making matters worse was the groin injury suffered by LeBron James in the fourth quarter, who is now listed as day-to-day with an adductor strain but isn’t expected to play their next game on Friday against the Kings. James’ injury further complicates what is already a murky immediate future for this Lakers team, and only adds to the difficulty this front office faces in trying to decide what moves to make during this season.
There was an expectation that the Lakers would do something after the first month-plus of the season, particularly once players who changed teams this offseason are eligible to be traded on December 15. The problem is, it’s not clear if the Lakers season will be salvageable by December 15, as they’re trending towards disaster and could very well be almost completely removed from the playoff conversation before we even reach Christmas, particularly if James is out for anything approaching an extended period of time.
That hasn’t changed how current Lakers stars view things, as Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report wrote “key players” (and it’s not hard to figure out who those would be) still want L.A. to trade their two remaining draft picks in 2027 and 2029 for immediate help. The problem is, the Lakers, probably rightfully, don’t see that as a guaranteed path to title contention.
With the team’s trajectory trending south, sources indicate the front office is unlikely to attach those picks to a potential trade out of concern that such a transaction would not significantly change the course of the season.
It is not universally believed internally that a trade for Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner and sharpshooter Buddy Hield would move the needle to title contention, sources say.
That’s probably true, but unless James finds himself on the shelf for a considerable amount of time, the Lakers brass is going to have a very difficult time convincing him to punt on his 20th season in the league. That’s probably the smart thing to do as an organization, but only in a vacuum that doesn’t factor in the last two offseasons as self inflicted wounds that took L.A. from the literal champs to a complete non-factor in the West by virtue of sheer stupidity.
As such, after inking James to a two-year extension this offseason, the Lakers have tethered themselves to James for the remainder of his career (at least it would seem) and allegedly promised him they’d do what it takes to maximize his chances of getting a fifth ring. To this point, that has not happened and as they face the reality of this season already being on the precipice of being a lost year, they will have to make a choice about where their priorities lie and deal with the fallout of a situation of their own making.