3 Mistakes the Lakers Should Avoid as They Try to Save Their Season

The Lakers are looking to save their season as they try to avoid making these mistakes during the final stretch of the regular season. The team is currently struggling and in danger of missing the playoffs altogether, but there’s still hope for a turnaround before it’s too late.

The “nba rumors: lakers” is a blog that discusses the latest NBA news. The blog gives 3 mistakes the Lakers should avoid as they try to save their season.

3 Mistakes the Lakers Should Avoid as They Try to Save Their Season

The Los Angeles Lakers did not expect to be below.500 with four games remaining in the NBA season’s mathematical first half. Last summer, the Lakers went all-in on experienced signings. Only three players from last season’s 42–30 play-in club, which fell in the first round to the Phoenix Suns, were retained. The NBA trade deadline is on February 10th, which is around five weeks away. However, GM Rob Pelinka will have to thread a fine needle if he wants to make any significant adjustments to the squad he put together.

With a record of 18–19, the Lakers are in seventh place in the Western Conference, one game behind their Crypto.com Arena neighbors, the Clippers, for the last assured playoff spot. The Lakers are already a luxury tax payer with nothing in the way of movable wages to deal with. The salary-cap scenario is Pelinka’s biggest roadblock. Given that fact, the Lakers cannot afford to commit the following three errors.

The Lakers won’t be able to deal their whole team before the NBA trade deadline.

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The Lakers have 75 percent of their compensation dedicated to three players, Russell Westbrook ($44.2 million), LeBron James ($41.2 million), and Anthony Davis ($35.4 million), and are $20.4 million above the luxury tax threshold.

After Talen Horton-Tucker ($9.5 million) and Kendrick Nunn ($5 million), LA’s roster is made up entirely of minimum-wage players. Yes, you read it right. Ten of the Lakers’ 15 players are on minimum contracts. Nine of them ($1.7 million) are veterans’ minimum cap hits. Austin Reaves ($925,000), an undrafted rookie, is the other.

Because he was a Bird rights signing, the Lakers can’t add Horton-Tucker to a deal until January 15.

The arithmetic to add an inactive Philadelphia 76ers star like Ben Simmons at the NBA trade deadline, for example, does not work for LA.

Not only would the Lakers have to give up almost all of their youthful assets in Horton-Tucker and Nunn, but they’d also have to send away seven of the veterans James worked so hard to acquire.

That will obliterate the club’s depth. Given Wall’s $44.3 million cap amount vs Simmons’ $33 million, any consideration of John Wall would need considerably more roster turnover.

A nuclear option for the franchise would wreak even more havoc on the future.

The Los Angeles Lakers face significant pressure to take a big swing at the NBA trade deadline. But there are pitfalls in every direction.

The Los Angeles Lakers face significant pressure to take a big swing at the NBA trade deadline. But there are pitfalls in every direction. The Los Angeles Lakers are under a lot of pressure to make a huge move before the NBA trade deadline. However, there are dangers in every direction. | Getty Images/Meg Oliphant

To obtain Davis, the Lakers had to give up three first-round selections. In 2023, they also gave up their exchange rights to the New Orleans Pelicans. Because the Stepien Rule prohibits clubs from trading first-round selections in successive years, New Orleans will have to settle for either LA’s 2024 or 2025 first-round pick.

The Lakers’ earliest first-round pick is 2027, but they might also include their 2028 pick in a possible transaction at the NBA trade deadline.

To put it another way, James will be 43 years old in 2028, Westbrook will be 39, and Davis will be 34. A lot of the odor of rebuilding emanates from such circumstance.

There’s a pressing urgency to make the most of James’ exceptionally extended prime. However, giving up the rest of the future in order to win now might make the five years Lakers fans enjoyed from 2013 to 2018 look like a distant memory.

The Lakers cannot avoid complicating their luxury tax situation any more.

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The Lakers are a taxpaying club this season, as previously stated. With just five players under contract for 2022–23, LA expects to be in the tax once again. For next season, Westbrook has a $47.1 million player option, while Nunn has a $5.25 million option. Austin Reaves, an undrafted free agent, has a $1.6 million option with the Los Angeles Rams.

The working assumption is that trade talks will exclude James (whose contract ends in 2023) and Davis (who is now injured and whose future has already been mortgaged).

The situation with Westbrook is more convoluted. His raw stats have dropped from 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 11.7 assists in 2020–21 with the Washington Wizards to 19.5, 8.2, and 8.4 in 2019–20. He still struggles to hit 3-pointers and is a mediocre free-throw shooter, especially for a point guard. When you consider his deteriorating worth as a defender, the chances of him rejecting his option are little to none.

As a result, the Los Angeles Lakers will have three players eating three-quarters of their cap sheet for the second season in a row. And that’s before any possible trade deadline moves in the NBA.

As Pelinka considers his choices for improving his faltering team from the outside, there are metaphorical landmines in every direction. Perhaps the only consolation he can find is that, like Mitch Kupchak a decade ago, if things go wrong, it will be the next guy’s issue.

Basketball Reference provided the statistics. Spotrac provided contract details.

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The “lakers 2021” is a blog that discusses the 3 mistakes the Lakers should avoid as they try to save their season.

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