Lakers must now look ahead towards the summer of 2018
While many Lakers fans were hopeful this current team could fight for the 8th seed in the West, inevitably reality sank in for the Los Angeles Lakers. Standing 7.5 games out of a playoff spot at 12-27, it's time for the Lakers to plan ahead for this summer. The only untouchables on the squad are Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. Everyone else is available for trade at the deadline to clear up cap space and acquire more assets. Let’s take a look at some possible trade outcomes.
Lakers Receive: DeMarcus Cousins
Pelicans Receive: Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and 2020 First Round Pick
This trade should only be explored if DeMarcus is 100% certain he doesn’t want to extend with New Orleans and is 100% committed to signing with the Lakers long term. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pelicans are not listening to trade offers at the moment. Yet if the Pelicans remain around .500 and are still in the playoff hunt around the trade deadline, it would make sense for them to explore options.
The Lakers would be getting a max free agent early, and would get to see how Cousins fits with Lonzo, Kuzma and Ingram for 2 months. The Pelicans get Clarkson who can put up points in a hurry, as well as a potential double-double guy in Randle. The Pelicans would covet another asset in the future first-rounder. They may believe they can re-sign Cousins in the summer, but it would leave them without nearly any cap space with money already owed to Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Solomon Hill. It makes sense to move on and not let Cousins walk for nothing in the summer.
Lakers Receive: Nerlens Noel and Devin Harris
Mavericks Receive: Julius Randle, Luol Deng and 2020 First Round Pick
This is a salary dump the Lakers would be hoping to put on the Dallas Mavericks, while also giving them some assets to work with. Randle would give the Mavs a young talent with restricted free agent status looming while they continue the rebuild, plus a 2020 draft asset. The Lakers would be free up cap space for the summer of 2018 while also giving Nerlens Noel a chance to earn some playing time since he isn’t receiving much in Dallas.
Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could also be moved to teams that hope to add some talent for their playoff run, but their contracts make them harder to move. If Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka are able to move either one for a late 2018 first rounder, that would be a huge success for the Lakers.
One thing Lakers fans can count on is the front office will be active at the deadline with Magic and Pelinka work to get this franchise back on track. The Lakers and their front office will be judged heavily off of what they can do to prepare for an insane summer in free agency.