With Kevin Love currently taking up residency in Cleveland as a member of the Cavaliers, it looks like the Lakers have one less piece to chase in future off-seasons. Love was one of the players many Lakers fans felt was destined to don the purple and gold. Having been born in Santa Monica and attended UCLA, it only felt natural that the disgruntled power forward would come join the Lakers. That option no longer exists, and the idea of holding on and waiting for a free agent to sign looks less and less appealing. Should that mean a franchise altering trade is on the horizon?
Although the Lakers have made flexibility and future cap space a priority, it hasn’t exactly resulted in anything franchise changing. In the past two years, the largest acquisitions for the Lakers have been prying Jeremy Lin away from the Rockets (with a pick) and drafting Julius Randle. Although individually they were good moves, they aren’t the championship-caliber moves you would expect from the Lakers. The big names chose not to sign with Los Angeles this off-season, and without more in place, it seems like it is a trend that might continue.
This season the Lakers have a few trade assets. The first round pick that was gained from the Jeremy Lin trade, Lin himself on an expiring contract, Steve Nash also on an expiring contract, and Julius Randle, the 7th overall pick in a particularly deep draft. All of these pieces can be put together to get a franchise changing player. Although the market for those types of players is very thin, the Lakers are at least putting themselves in a position to insert themselves into any conversation.
If the Lakers don’t end up swinging a trade for some more help, next year at this time could end up being more bleak than the current outlook. Nash and Lin could both be gone next year with no compensation for either, Randle’s foot issue could flare up and end his season prematurely, and Kobe could no longer be the Black Mamba. Oh yeah, and the Phoenix Suns have the Lakers first round pick next season.
If the Lakers aren’t able to swing for the fences on a franchise altering trade, could the Lakers be stuck in a 5-year span of irrelevance? With a lack of readily available draft picks and a lot of money locked in Kobe for the next two seasons, it could very well be half a decade until the Lakers are back in a position to contend. If the Lakers have a chance to snag the next face of the franchise, they shouldn’t wait – free agency is fickle, but trades are much more certain.