It has never been more clear than now that the Lakers just don't have enough to win this season. Since the injury to LeBron James, the team has struggled to keep their record above .500 after once being the 4th seed in the West.
With this realization, the team knows some big moves are ahead. They can either trade for an All-Star this season by sending a package of their young players and picks or continue to wait until free-agency where they can (hopefully) lure in a star through there.
3 and a half months into the season and even LeBron James knows they're probably better of doing the latter.
”LeBron does not expect the Lakers to trade for an all-star before the deadline. He understands the Lakers best chance to win is to keep their assets and sign a max free agent in the offseason.”
To sign a max-free agent would be to get the biggest fish without having to give up anything for him. They get to keep their young stars, who they hope can still develop into stars themselves, while getting a secondary star to pair with James. It's a win-win scenario.
The fact that James presumably has the patience to wait this out alleviates pressure from the Lakers to make something happen now.
Granted, we're seeing how ugly things are getting without him. There's almost no chance they get very far in the postseason. But it's a sacrifice LeBron and the Lakers are willing to make if it means signing one of their dream free-agents this July.