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The Pressure is on For the Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers

The NBA world received a surprise Sunday morning after LeBron James sat down with The Athletic’s Sam Amick after the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Kings 136-134 to extend their winning streak to five.  Amick touched on the lack of trades made, and James responded with a telling quote. 

LeBron later clarified his statement on Twitter and took issue with how Amick worded his article: “Hey Sam, actually, my patience isn’t waning. You make it sound like I’m frustrated when I’m really not.”

He added, “And I said what I said with the [utmost] respect and calmness ’cause that’s the mood I’m in!”

The Pressure is on For the Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers currently sit at 12th in the West with a 19-21 record. They are two games back of the fifth seed and inching close to Play-in territory.  This is a marked improvement from a team that began the year 2-10.  However, trade rumors have clouded the franchise for months on end.

Though the front office has been reluctant to make a move, this comment by one of their franchise players might be the impetus for one.

The Latest Trade Rumors

The Lakers had their eyes on several players the summer, ones that fans believe would help the team out tremendously.  One of the recent players to re-emerge as a target is Pacers big man Myles Turner, who has been the subject of trade talks for what has felt like an eternity.  The latest development that he has rebuffed extension offers from the Pacers makes a trade seem more plausible as the days go on.

Turner, who is currently averaging 16.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 2.2 blocks per game, would alleviate several of LA’s current woes.  The Lakers are currently 22nd in defensive rating (113.6) and 23rd in three-point percentage (34.2%).  Turner’s aforementioned defensive prowess and his 38% shooting from deep this season would certainly patch those holes. His presence would also slide Anthony Davis to his natural power forward position.

Even though Russell Westbrook was a main focus in past trade rumors, his fascinating play off the bench has led GM Rob Pelinka to explore other options, particularly after Davis went down with a foot injury.  If that’s still the case, there are avenues for success on that route.  It’s ultimately a matter of actions speaking louder than words.

If it Ain’t Broke, Why Fix it?

The team might be playing some of the best basketball we’ve seen all season. Still, there are several deficiencies on the roster that one or two trades could address.

Veteran guard Patrick Beverley has been relatively underwhelming this season, with averages of six points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game on 39-33-80 splits–mostly as a starter.  Moving him and his expiring $13 million contract would be critical for the front office.  Damian Jones, who was brought in to be the backup center, has found himself out of the regular rotation with a minimal impact despite his status as a lob threat and rim protector.  Then, there’s Kendrick Nunn, who–outside of his 23-point performance against Sacramento–has looked like a shell of himself since returning from injury.  And, of course, there are those 2027 and 2029 first-round picks that the front office has held onto for dear life—hopefully until now.*

*It’s important to note that though the Lakers do have other first and second-round picks in upcoming drafts, the ‘27 and ‘29 ones are the first ones that can be traded.

Everything might be looking good in La La Land right now, but don’t let that new year’s success fool you.  The Lakers still have a ways to go before they can legitimately compete for a playoff spot in the West, but these comments from their leader are a sign of things to come.  Pressure makes diamonds, so let’s see if the Lakers brass can shine bright.


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