The injury bug has hit the Lakers hard this season. The latest to go down is UCLA phenom Lonzo Ball, who joins LeBron James and Rajon Rondo on the sidelines.
The official prognosis is a grade 3 ankle sprain, which will take a four to six week recovery time. This news coupled with their already hobbled roster has the Lakers looking for help, preferably another guard, as they asses their current situation.
“I know Rob and Magic are working, looking for other options and possibilities,” Walton said, as quoted by USA Today‘s Lonzo Wire. “What that is, I don’t know, and if we don’t do anything that’s fine too. We go out there with our guys that have been here working their tails off for us all year long.”
While they figure out what's next this season, some speculate the quote could be hinting at an upcoming trade. With plenty of players and picks to offer, it won't be hard for the Lakers to fulfill their needs.
Lonzo Wire suggested a deal, for example, that could see Lance Stephenson being dealt for another ball-handling guard.
“For example, trading Lance Stephenson for [Orlando Magic point guard] D.J. Augustin wouldn’t make much sense for the Lakers, but trading for Terrence Ross and getting Augustin as part of that package might.”
Whatever they decide to do, the recent slew of injuries will make things harder for them the rest of the season. Getting some help in the backcourt would help hold things down until folks get healthy, but every loss matters and for the Lakers, they can't afford to be a team that loses -- not anymore. With LeBron James in town, the team will be forced to compete, and the pressure is on to make the best of their opportunity for the four years LeBron is in town.
Which is why they might have to look beyond Lonzo entirely. In a shocking reveal by The Athletic's Shams Charania, the Lakers and Mavs discussed a deal that would bring Dennis Smith Jr. to Los Angeles.
Smith and the Mavericks had been working to accommodate a trade for him, but receiving equal value for a talented, former No. 9 overall pick just one year into his four-year rookie-scale contract is nearly impossible. The Mavericks discussed Smith deals with several teams, including Orlando, New York and the L.A. Lakers, league sources said.
Obviously, the deal has yet to go through. But the only feasible return for Smith would be one of the Lakers' youngsters. So for them to even be willing to have a conversation about it shows Rob Pelinka is at least considering trading one of them.
Zo could be the odd man out in this scenario. He's the one with more flaws than the rest, he's the one with the drama-laden family, and he's the one currently sidelined with an injury.
Regardless, it's Lonzo's unavailability (and maybe shooting woes?) in the first place that has the purple and gold on the search for a replacement. Whether it's temporary or permanent will depend on the state of Ball going forward. Though, nothing is guaranteed for him. That much we do know.