Can Los Angeles Lakers win a title without trade upgrade?

(Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The argument for not making a trade

The Lakers currently sit atop the western conference standings. We still have two months left in the regular season. Things are fluid, but a clear picture of the playoffs is starting to take shape.

If the postseason were to start today, the Lakers would play the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. Then LA would match up against either the Utah Jazz or the Houston Rockets in the second round.

That’s an easy path to the Western Conference Finals. The Memphis Grizzlies developed faster than expected, and it has been a sweet story, but they’d get swept by the Lakers in the first round. The Utah Jazz lack a superstar to help open things up on offense. The Lakers’ length and defensive intensity would wreak havoc on the Jazz in the second round.

The Houston Rockets just beat the Lakers, but the Purple and Gold would physically dominate Daryl Morey’s peculiar small ball experiment if they were to meet in the second round.

Yes, the Lakers do have the best record in the Western Conference, but all of a sudden, the Clippers have slowly crept within shouting distance of the first seed. LA’s other team sits only four games behind the Lakers in the loss column.

If the Lakers were to slide back into the second seed, their path to the Western Conference Finals would suddenly become much more difficult. They’d have to fight their way through the Dallas Mavericks or the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round and then beat a solid Nuggets squad in the second round.

The Lakers have climbed to the top of the Western Conference standings on the backs of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But, the Purple and Gold’s amazing chemistry has been equally important. Every player on the Lakers genuinely likes each other, and every man on the squad knows his role and doesn’t complain about it.

If Rob Pelinka had made an ill-conceived trade, it could have hurt the Lakers’ chemistry. That might have cost the Lakers a handful of winnable games, which in turn could have dropped the Purple and Gold from the first seed.

Perhaps you believe the Lakers are a lock to make the Western Conference Finals, regardless of seeding or which team they face in the first and second rounds. The Clippers are the real issue. LA’s other team upgraded by trading for Marcus Morris Sr., while the Lakers made no improvements.

Maybe you believe the Lakers needed to add another playmaker, someone who can run the second unit as LeBron rests. A player who can also act as an auxiliary distributor when the Clippers load up on James.

The Lakers probably could have landed Derrick Rose, but the Pistons price was too high. Rob Pelinka smartly took his finger off the trigger and decided to keep the Lakers’ incredible chemistry intact.

Plus, there’s reason to believe that even though Rajon Rondo and Danny Green have underperformed thus far in the regular season, they’ll turn it up in the postseason.

Rondo and Green are veterans who have both won championships. Neither player has anything left to prove in the regular season. Also, both players have played exceptional basketball throughout their playoff careers.

During Rondo’s last two playoff stints with the New Orleans Pelicans and Chicago Bulls, he played at a very high level. He averaged 11 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. “Playoff Rondo” is a real thing.

Danny Green has shot 40 percent from deep throughout his career in the playoffs, and he has a very impressive 104 postseason defensive rating.