Several people around the NBA consider the Los Angeles Lakers are one of the biggest losers of the trade deadline since they didn’t make any addition before the deadline struck. That’s even worse when you see they lost Marcus Morris to the Clippers, their biggest rivals for the West this season.
All of this has led rival executives to believe the Clippers have a big advantage over the Lakers provided that they clash in the playoffs.
“There’s no way the Lakers beat the Clippers in a seven-game series,” an Eastern Conference executive said.
They might be right, but this is not the end of the world for the Purple and Gold, who continue looking for new players. Adding Darren Collison was a very good option for them; Collison is a point guard who would have provided LeBron James with another ball-handler, playmaker and scorer.
After he retired suddenly over the summer, Darren flirted with a return and was seen courtside with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss at Staples Center last week before declining.
Veteran guard Darren Collison has decided that he won’t return to the NBA this season and plans to stay retired, league sources tell ESPN. Lakers and Clippers had been courting him, but Collison has informed teams that the timing isn’t right for him.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 9, 2020
“That’s a blow,” a former general manager said. “I’m not sure the Lakers can find a better fit than Collison.”
Some consider Rajon Rondo can still make an impact on the offense if he continues shooting as he did Monday night, scoring 23 points against the Phoenix Suns. However, this is not a common thing to see from Rondo.
“There’s a reason Rondo dominated the Suns: They weren’t guarding him,” the former general manager said. “Teams want him to shoot.”
Still, Rondo is the only guy who can handle the ball decently after LeBron.
“He overdribbles,” said a Western Conference executive. “The team needs another guard who can handle but who can also play off of LeBron as a shooter. That’s not Rondo.”
The Lakers have another issue in defending big, strong wings, as they struggle to contain the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam and Ben Simmons.
“Kawhi is too strong for Danny Green. [Kyle] Kuzma can’t do anything against him. We’ve seen what he does to KCP,” the former general manager said. “LeBron is really the Lakers’ best option defensively. They’re going to have to sacrifice in a series and put LeBron on Kawhi.”
That said, the Lakers have a couple of options to add in the case some players are cut by their current teams while they’ve been linked with other assets who were waived after the deadline.
The Lakers have been linked to Dion Waiters by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, but Dion isn’t the best option for handling the ball or defending bigger wings.
Phoenix’s Tyler Johnson has been another name linked to the Purple and Gold, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, but the 27-year-old guard shot just 28.9 percent from three-point range in 31 games for the Suns this season.
It remains to be seen if the Pistons will release Reggie Jackson, but the point guard was recently linked with the Clippers.
Detroit’s Reggie Jackson is still assessing whether to pursue a buyout or complete his Pistons contract, league sources say, but the Clippers have emerged as a likely suitor if Jackson goes that route
The Clips, of course, also have interest in prime Laker target Darren Collison
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 8, 2020
The Hawks haven’t shown any clear signs they’ll cut guard Jeff Teague, who is backing up Trae Young in Atlanta. Matthew Dellavedova might be a good addition to the team, as he has the advantage of having played with LeBron in Cleveland.
Other potential names to the Lakers include Evan Turner, Jamal Crawford, Maurice Harkless, Corey Brewer, Joe Johnson, Jeff Green, Jonathon Simmons, Trevor Booker, Tyrone Wallace, Nik Stauskas, Shelvin Mack, Jeremy Lin, and Iman Shumpert.
Even Lance Stephenson could make a return to the Staples Center in case of an emergency.
“It’s not the craziest idea I’ve ever heard,” the former general manager said.
It looks like they have options, but not all of them fit their needs. It remains to be seen which path they will take, as the playoffs are getting closer and the Clippers look better and better by the day.