The Los Angeles Lakers have had a tremendously disappointing season thus far; make no mistake about it. 

The 2020 NBA Champions are currently the ninth seed in the Western Conference with a 24-27 record that barely has them positioned to reach the play-in tournament despite having six potential Hall of Fame players on their roster.

Whether the topic is Russell Westbrook’s failure to integrate with LA, Anthony Davis’s woeful injury record, or defensive ineffectiveness, there are many downfalls to pick from. With the trade deadline of Feb. 10th fast approaching, many of the Lakers’ players have had their names circulated in trade rumors— and many of them are on the chopping block.

 

The Untouchables

LeBron James is not going to be moved ahead of the trade deadline, given that he is on pace to win the scoring title and could potentially be having the most impressive year of his entire career. 

Anthony Davis is not quite at the same “immovable” level as James, but he is just behind. It would take something akin to 20 highway robberies to get the Lakers to move him mid-season, both for his immediate impact and his role as the future of the franchise.

Malik Monk has also worked his way into the spotlight in his first season as a Laker, averaging career-highs across the board and, on some nights, flashing near-All-Star potential. With a team-high 41.3 percent from beyond the arc and a line of 33 points (8-14 3PT), ten rebounds, and five assists in his last outing, Monk’s ability to operate as a ball-handler, screener, or catch-and-shoot specialist make him a perfect flex player in a lineup that features a combination of James, Davis, and Westbrook. 

 

The “Should Keeps”

Undrafted rookie Austin Reaves headlines the next tier of players in purple and gold as a quality role player that can do the little pieces of the game that nobody wants to: boxing out, taking charges, making the extra pass, and knocking down timely shots. Reaves also plays well with James and is frequently on the court in the fourth quarter, showing that he has the trust of his coach down the stretch. 

Keep an eye on Reaves’ +/- as well in future games, because he usually shows up as one of the more effective players on the court.

Dwight Howard has not played much this season, especially with James now functioning as a quasi-center in certain lineups. Still, his situational importance against players such as Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Karl-Anthony Towns will keep him on the roster. Howard showed up big during the Lakers’ run to the championship in the bubble and should be held on to for his experience and his impact when he gets on the court.

There will not be much of a market for Stanley Johnson, thus reducing the likelihood of being dealt somewhere. Still, he has been important as a versatile defender and occasional shot-creator. After a string of 10-day contracts kept him around, the former Arizona player earned a two-year deal on the West Coast and has been starting and closing games.

The fan-favorite that is Carmelo Anthony has not quite hit his standard of 40.9 perfect from three that he made last season, currently at 38.0 percent for the year. Still, he has been a quality option in the post and has been incredibly solid as a mid-to-low-post defender despite his reputation. Anthony would not likely attract much interest from other teams, at least in exchange for other valuable assets, but his absence would not help LA either.

One final, sneaky name in this group is Kendrick Nunn, who has not played a single game this season. Last year, Nunn averaged 14.6 points on 38.1 percent three-point shooting with the Miami Heat, also making 93.3 percent of his free throws in the process. The third-year point guard is also a willing defender with speed and shiftiness, and his qualities are exactly what the Lakers are missing in their current lineup.

 

Would Like to Explore

Talen Horton-Tucker has been listed as the most valuable tradeable player on LA’s roster due to his youth and production. The 21-year-old shooting guard with tremendous length is scoring 9.9 points per night and is both nimble and strong around the rim, though he is a dreadful three-point shooter. He is best when he can function as the primary ball-handler and would fit best on a rebuilding team willing to give him free rein of an offense or as the leader of a second unit on a team near championship level.

Avery Bradley is known as a defensive stopper but has only been an annoyance this season, leaving most of his lockdown defense in his younger years. He has also lost his mid-range jump shot that used to be so reliable when curling off of screens and has not shot well in the fourth quarter and could thus be on the move in the next couple of weeks.

Wayne Ellington had a few games of impressive marksmanship but has not been in the rotation for a decent amount of time. At the same time, he could be an important situational piece when LA needs a three. If he is going to sit on the bench most of the other time, then the Lakers should see if a team in need of a three-point sniper would be willing to give them a viable defender or shot-creator in return.

 

Who Knows?

Russell Westbrook is the only man in this tier, and for good reason. The Lakers have a 33-year-old point guard with still unmatched athleticism that does not fit their lineup at all, yet is still a first-ballot Hall of Famer. 

Westbrook has been atrocious, average, and phenomenal at times, and any sort of consistency would make it much easier to judge his standing in LA. Unfortunately, it does not look like this is going to come, and the Lakers will do some serious soul searching before even attempting to move his astronomical contract if they decide to.

Looking at the Lakers Roster: Who is Available at the Trade Deadline

While he has shown flashes at times, Los Angeles Lakers’ point guard Russell Westbrook might be on the trade block.

 

At Risk of Being Cut

Kent Bazemore, DeAndre Jordan, Trevor Ariza should all be wary that they are on borrowed time in LA after failing to make noticeable impacts in stretches on the court and falling down the pecking order.

 


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