Jan 10, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton (right) talks with guard D’Angelo Russell (1) and guard Jordan Clarkson (6) during the fourth quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center. The Portland Trail Blazers won 108-87. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Article continues below ...
The Los Angeles Lakers could be active at the NBA Trade Deadline. Check out the five likeliest players to not be with the team after the deadline.
The Los Angeles Lakers head into the All-Star break with a 19-39 record. They have the third-worst record in the NBA and are seven games behind for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, so it is safe to say the postseason probably isn’t in the Lakers future.
Despite the poor win-loss record, the Lakers are a team to keep an eye on as we head towards the 2017 NBA Trade Deadline. The trade deadline is Feb. 23 and the Lakers could make some moves.
When Kobe Bryant was on the roster, the team was devoid of many assets. It was loaded with older players and players on one-year deals to fit around Bryant. But, with the poor records the Lakers have had in recent seasons, they have been near the top of the draft and added some real talent.
As a result, the Lakers have some players that other teams could be very interested in acquiring. They have some veterans that could help teams looking to make a playoff push. They have a lot of young talent at some positions that they could look to unload as well to free up the logjams. General manager Mitch Kupchak has said that the team is active in trade talks and mentioned the varying level of interest from other teams is because of the talent on the roster.
Which players could we see on the move out of Los Angeles in the next couple of days? Check out the five players that are likeliest to be gone from the team following the deadline via trade, release or buyout.
Feb 10, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young (0) reacts after making a basket during the third quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Young has re-invented himself with the Lakers this season. After numerous attempts to trade Swaggy P during the offseason, the Lakers received no interest. They should consider themselves lucky, as Young has turned into a valuable piece for them.
He earned a starting role with the team during the offseason and has played extremely well. Young has never started this much in his career but has thrived in the role. Head coach Luke Walton has relied on Young as their best defensive player, and as always, Young can fill it up with the best of them.
The Lakers are 3.3 points better per 100 possessions with Young on the court than off the court. They play better when he is on the court but the team could benefit from trading him as well.
The only caveat with trading Young is that he could be a rental player. He has a player option for the 2017-18 season which he will probably opt out of to try and land another long-term deal. With how he has played this season, he should have no problem improving upon the $5.7 million he is set to make next season.
That could lower the package the Lakers receive in return for Young, but it is an avenue they need to explore. Young probably isn’t a part of their future so trading him for future assets makes sense.
Jan 22, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Louis Williams (23) warms up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Williams has become one of the best trade assets not only on the Lakers, but in the NBA. Williams is in the midst of a career season and if the Lakers want to engage in trade talks surrounding him, he should bring back a solid haul.
But can the Lakers afford to trade Williams? Despite his role as the Sixth Man, the team is exponentially better with him on the court than off. When Williams is on the court, the Lakers have a net rating of -1.3; when he is off that number plummets to -12.5 for a differential of -11.2. The Lakers are much better offensively with Williams on the court and also improve defensively.
He does a multitude of things when he is on the court as well. He is having a career season shooting the ball, averaging 18.6 points per game. He also has a strong assist percentage at 22.8, so he can run an offense if need be.
Williams has entrenched himself as one of the best sixth men in the NBA this season. He is putting up great numbers despite playing only 24.2 minutes per game. There are a number of contenders that could use a scoring punch like Williams provides in their second unit.
Unlike Young, Williams would not be a rental player. His contract runs through the 2017-18 season, so the Lakers could expect a bigger package for a player that will be with the team beyond this season and is owed a very reasonable $7 million next season.
Feb 3, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng (9) controls the ball while Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown (7) defends during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Luol Deng/Timofey Mozgov
The Lakers’ biggest free agent acquisitions this past offseason were Deng and Mozgov. Both players signed four-year deals with Deng’s worth $72 million and $64 million, respectively. Both were signed to help bring the younger players around, but both are players the team would like to trade.
Deng and Mozgov began the season in the starting five but have since been removed. Deng has remained in the rotation, but Mozgov has played only 10:35 in the five games prior to the All-Star break, all coming in one game. The Lakers have moved Brandon Ingram and Tarik Black into the starting unit and elevated Ivica Zubac into a rotation spot over Mozgov as well.
Unsurprisingly, there has been little interest on the trade market in either player. Deng showed last season that he can thrive at power forward and would be a solid pickup for a team looking for wing depth. Mozgov is a serviceable center and doesn’t look to be in the Lakers’ plans any longer.
While neither player is garnering interest on their own, the Lakers could look to pair them with one of their more attractive assets if they really want to try moving one. It would more than likely lessen the return package, but it would help the Lakers begin clearing their books down the road when younger players are up for contract extensions.
Dec 2, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Los Angeles Lakers point guard Jose Calderon (5) during their game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Lakers 113-80. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Calderon was traded to the Bulls as part of the Derrick Rose deal with the New York Knicks, but was then flipped to the Los Angeles Lakers. Calderon has played sparingly with the Lakers since being acquired.
Calderon has appeared in only 22 games, averaging 12.2 minutes per game. He gets some minutes if there are injuries, but if the Lakers are healthy he is nowhere near the rotation. Calderon played in only one of the last eight games heading into the All-Star break, so he is someone the Lakers will definitely try to move.
There has already been interest in Calderon this season. Despite not playing with the Lakers, there are teams that would like to add him as veteran insurance for a playoff push. One team that has inquired about him is the Cleveland Cavaliers, who could use a backup point guard.
While he is nearing the end of his career at 35 years old, Calderon can still run an offense and shoot the ball. Last season as the starting point guard for the Knicks, he shot 41.4 percent from deep and averaged 4.1 assists per game.
He can probably give a team some minutes off the bench still. If the Lakers are unable to find him a home via trade, he is a likely candidate to be released or bought out so that he can find a contending team to latch on with.
Jan 22, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Pierre Jackson (55) guards Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson (6) during the second half at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeat the Lakers 122-73. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Of all the players on this list, Clarkson is the least likely to be traded, and probably the player the Lakers would least like to move. He has been an excellent find for the Lakers after being selected in the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft, No.46 overall.
Clarkson has had a role change each season, but you never hear him complain. He played mostly point guard as a rookie but was shifted to shooting guard in his second season. This year, he was removed from the starting lineup after starting all 79 games he played in last season. He has also expanded to playing more small forward this season, giving the Lakers an explosive small-ball lineup.
The Lakers clearly believed in Clarkson, as they signed him to a four-year, $50 million deal. He is a versatile player, filling a number of roles for the Lakers off their bench. But, he is also someone they could consider moving, according to Nick Silva of ESPN.com. The Lakers have been better with Clarkson off the court this season, so they could look to shake up their backcourt and bring in some new faces.
With that being said, the Lakers should have no real urgency to move Clarkson. The only reason he would be moved is to sweeten a deal, possibly in one including Deng or Mozgov. If the Lakers ramp up trade talks for Nick Young or Lou Williams, the likelihood of Clarkson being moved would decrease; they would need Clarkson should they move either player.
Clarkson has a bright future in the NBA and could blossom into a Sixth Man of the Year candidate down the road given his skill set. He’s a solid combo guard and the Lakers would have to be blown away by an offer to trade away the 24-year-old.