4 Biggest Issues L.A. Lakers Must Address at the Trade Deadline

More than halfway through the regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers continue to slog along in last place in the Western Conference. Their priorities are both to celebrate Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour and develop the skill sets of rookies and second-year players.

But there’s also the trade deadline to consider.

It’s unlikely that the front office will try to improve the team’s immediate fortunes. After all, extra wins at this point would only jeopardize L.A.’s chances to retain its top-three-protected draft pick come June.

As for the rest of the league, all but five teams are either firmly in the playoff hunt or within five games of contention. Most potential trade partners are looking to find a competitive edge—not cast-offs.

The Lakers probably aren’t selling what buyers want, and vice versa.


Lack of Assets

For the Lakers, the most appealing assets are young prospects who are integral to the team’s ongoing rebuild.

Appearing on Time Warner Cable SportsNet with Chris McGee in early January, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak spoke about trade strategies and a reluctance to move budding stars.

“Most of the teams that would have interest in our players would have interest in our young players, and we covet our young players pretty highly right now,” Kupchak said. “So it would be tough for us to move a young player.”

Assuming that D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle are off the table, and with the promise also shown by Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown, the stockpile of trade chips is diminished greatly.

At the top of the expendable list is Roy Hibbert, the 7’2” center who was acquired from the Indiana Pacers last summer. Hibbert’s on an expiring deal worth $15.5 million this season, which could be attractive ...

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