Without Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers are struggling to keep their heads above the water. A 20-11 record in the West, and on a 4-game win streak, the Purple and Gold clearly need some help if they want to repeat as Champions, especially with the how the Nets, Clippers, and Jazz have looked so far this year.
While team President Rob Pelinka has not yet made it clear what he plans on doing, there are a number of routes he can take — and perhaps none better than the buyout market. With a whole list of players expected to reach a buyout with their team, the Lakers will have their pick of the crop. The question is, which player (or players) make the best fit for the team?
Rumored names that could be available on the trade and/or buyout market include Griffin, Hill, Andre Drummond, P.J. Tucker, Trevor Ariza, Hassan Whiteside and JaVale McGee, among others. Free agents Dewayne Dedmon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson remain current options. This is expected to be a deeper class than usual ahead of the March 25 trade deadline.
Whether the Lakers can land any of those players in a trade or out-pitch their competitors on the buyout market is an entirely different matter, but any of the aforementioned players would earn a spot in the rotation (and in Drummond’s case, start). McGee would have to be traded from Cleveland to another team and then waived to be eligible to re-sign with the Lakers.
Another option that has to be mentioned is DeMarcus Cousins, who was waived by the Rockets on Tuesday.
Any of those players could end up in a Lakers jersey, but it’s up to the team to decide who to bring on.
As Anthony Davis continues to struggle with injury, the Lakers’ need for strength and depth in the frontcourt only grows. Considering the Lakers’ current position, JaVale McGee and Hassan Whiteside seem like the best fit, as their game largely mirrors the formula they had last season.
There’s also DeMarcus Cousins, who is a multi-faceted veteran who can help stretch the floor for the team. The problem with him is the lack of defense.
Focusing on wings, PJ Tucker and Trevor Ariza make the most sense. They’re both quality 3-and-D players who would be an ideal fit next to LeBron James.
The biggest names, like Drummond and Griffin, are pretty unrealistic for L.A., probably because they wouldn’t come cheap. But if either of them wants to take a pay cut for the sake of winning a Chip, it might become a real possibility.
These next few weeks will be huge for the defending Champs, as they hope to not only add to their roster, but also hope that they can stop the bleeding amid Anthony Davis’ absence.
We’ll see how it all ends up for them by the season’s end.