The Los Angeles Lakers came into this season knowing that championship contention was out of the question.
That said, what nobody involved expected was for them to be the worst team in the NBA. Currently L.A., the Houston Rockets and the Orlando Magic are in a three-way battle for that honor.
In order for something to change for the Lakers, their roster needs to change. And one of the teams that has been most closely linked to a potential trade with them has been the San Antonio Spurs.
This week, fresh details emerged on what the Lakers are currently demanding of San Antonio in any swap that would center around Russell Westbrook.
“According to a source, the Los Angeles Lakers have targeted [Josh] Richardson and [Doug] McDermott in a trade that would involve Russell Westbrook,” Spurs insider LJ Ellis reported recently. “However, talks haven’t gained traction because the Lakers are only willing to relinquish a pair of second round picks in return for both players.
“Richardson (41.9%) and McDermott (43.1%) have been shooting extremely well from three-point range this season for the Spurs. Considering the Lakers are last in the league in three-point shooting at 28.4%, Los Angeles may eventually decide to increase their offer for San Antonio’s sharpshooting duo.
“If the Spurs do land Westbrook in a trade, the source says the Spurs would buy out his contract and allow him to become a free agent.”
The upside here for both sides is clear. L.A. would shed Westbrook, a guy they’ve been looking to deal for months, and return players that address their current biggest weakness (shooting). San Antonio would accelerate their rebuild and gain draft capital.
That said, would Richardson and McDermott really make that big of a different for the Lakers at this juncture? Is their inclusion and Westbrook’s exclusion really the only thing standing in the way of this group competing for a title? It really doesn’t seem like it.
Moreover, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich relishes screwing the Lakers over. He did so again just a few months ago. So if he is actually down for this particular swap, what does it say about his view of how it will impact L.A.?
Aside from one potential three-team trade, it’s hard to see the Lakers being able to do much of anything to improve the roster beyond this Spurs deal.
That’s certainly one way to pass the time at a college football game. https://t.co/xqxEGQMpqe
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 8, 2022
Once upon a time, the Lakers were the class of the NBA. Those days appear to be long gone.
Will this once-proud franchise be able to regain any semblance of dignity at some point this season?
Time will tell.