Los Angeles Lakers: Should The Lakers Trade Lou Williams?
With the trade deadline approaching, what could the Los Angeles Lakers get in return for Lou Williams?
With the NBA trade deadline coming on Feb. 23, several teams will be looking to make moves, trying to either add one more piece to solidify their playoff rotations or trying to turn a desirable asset into a long-term piece. The Los Angeles Lakers fall in the second category.
With a record of 19-37, the Lakers are destined for a trip to Secaucus in May, awaiting their fate in the NBA draft lottery.
Instead of gearing up for a run, the Lakers should look at some of their veteran pieces and consider moving them for assets — players or picks — who can help and fit their window alongside D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram.
Nick Young seems like a plausible trade candidate, but with a player option for his final season, it seems like whoever acquires him will face the decision of paying him, in this climate with a booming salary cap, after just two months of production.
Lou Wiliams, however, fits the best of both worlds.
Many were shocked when the Lakers decided to a three-year contract worth $21 million two summers ago, citing a talented veteran player going to a team that was clearly rebuilding.
Now, after another solid season, the Lakers could use him to bring in a solid return, while another team could add a spark plug off the bench with an additional season of control. Williams is currently averaging 18.4 points on a True Shooting Percentage of 60.5 and 3.1 assists per game.
So what can the Lakers acquire in exchange for Williams?
There are several directions here. The first is acquiring a first-round pick.
Los Angeles’ draft picks hang in the balance at the moment, with Los Angeles’ 2017 first-round pick top-three protected this year and their 2019 first-round pick in limbo, as the pick goes to Orlando if the Lakers send their 2017 pick to Philadelphia.
Adding another first-round pick into their arsenal couldn’t hurt.
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It also gives them another cheap asset. With the new rules in the CBA making it more likely for superstars to remain in their current situations, draft picks become an even stronger currency.
Even though the Lakers have several young former first round picks on the roster, adding another young, moldable talent onto the roster for head coach Luke Walton to work with seems ideal for Los Angeles’ future.
The second is trying to pry a young player away from their current situation. Williams is scheduled to make $7 million next season, so some semblance of salary will be returning back to the Lakers in a trade.
Why not try to add another player to the core, but rather than a draft pick, someone who already has some NBA experience to their name?
At first glance, the team that makes sense is Sacramento. The loss of Rudy Gay has Sacramento in need of another offensive talent on the roster. Williams could play some combo guard for the Kings and provide some offense off the bench.
Personally, I like the idea of something involving Williams and Kings backup center Willie Cauley-Stein.
Two other teams that intrigue me in a hypothetical Williams swap: The Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets.
The Hornets could use another offensive player who can manifest points. After Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum, Charlotte’s offense is very feast or famine, with no capable of creating their own offense. Charlotte is 10 points worse with Walker on the bench.
Williams isn’t the point guard Ramon Sessions is, but he could fill it up in bunches and keep Charlotte’s offense afloat while Walker rests on the bench.
With no desirable assets in terms of players, Charlotte seems like a team that would be giving up a draft pick for Williams.
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Detroit is another team that could use an offensive boost, sitting 22nd in the league in offensive efficiency. Outside of their starting five, Tobias Harris and Jon Leuer, the Pistons don’t have much on offense.
Williams would instantly be a sparkplug off the bench for Detroit, giving them another weapon and a piece that could allow Detroit to run some smaller lineups.
This is probably another situation where a draft pick is where the Lakers could benefit, but if I was Los Angeles, I would ask for Stanley Johnson.
After a decent rookie season where he showed flashes, Johnson has struggled in his sophomore season, even seeing some stints in the NBADL during the season.
Despite his struggles this season, Johnson would be a nice get as a 20-year-old forward with some two-way potential on the perimeter.
The Lakers still have some time to decide on whether they want to move Williams or not, but if they do, they’ll have some suitors and maybe, an excellent deal could come along to help them add to their future core.