The Los Angeles Lakers have won 17 NBA championships, which is tied for the most in league history with the Boston Celtics. They are known for chasing star players and building a winner. From Wilt to Kareem to Magic to Shaq to Kobe to LeBron, the Lakers always have a marquee name or two headlining their roster.
Stars players alone do not win championships. The front office has to build the supporting cast around them to make them a contender. Lakers fans know this all too well as the Russell Westbrook trade took the team from playoff contender to lottery-bound.
The Lakers’ front office has not always got it right around their superstars. They have frequently let key pieces go only to regret it. Here is a look at 22 players that LA gave up on way too soon.
Players Lakers gave up on way too soon: 22. Larry Nance Jr.
The Lakers drafted Nance Jr. with the 27th overall pick in 2015, and the 6’7 big man was productive in a limited role during his two and half seasons in Los Angeles before being traded to the Cavaliers at the deadline in 2018.
Nance Jr. was packaged with Jordan Clarkson for Channing Frye, Isaiah Thomas, and one first-round pick. The two veterans played a combined 26 games in LA before moving on and the 25th overall pick in 2018 turned into Moritz Wagner. He did not work out, which left the Lakers with virtually zero in return for two quality role players.
The purple and gold have spent years churning through big men searching for quality rotation options, but they sold Nance Jr. to create some cap flexibility. From 2018 to 2022, Nance Jr. averaged 9.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.3 steals in 26.5 minutes per game. He provides versatility and switch ability, and the Lakers would love to have more of that around LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Los Angeles Lakers gave up on Larry Nance Jr. after just two and a half seasons, and it was far too soon on the 6’7 forward.