The Los Angeles Lakers would not be in the position the team is in if it was not for making trades. Rob Pelinka was able to completely reinvent the roster before the trade deadline and created a strong roster that has a legitimate chance of making a run at the NBA Finals.
On the macro level, the Lakers wouldn’t have their last three championships if it was not for making savvy trades. The team does not win in 2020 without Anthony Davis and Kobe Bryant likely doesn’t get championship no. 4 and 5 if the team did not trade for Pau Gasol.
Heck, we can go all the way back to 1979 when the Lakers drafted Magic Johnson with the first overall pick. Los Angeles only had that pick because the team traded Gail Goodrich to the New Orleans Jazz, who ended up having the first overall pick in 1979.
Trades are a fundamental part of how the Lake Show builds a championship-winning roster. That is why it is a potentially big deal for LA that the Washington Wizards fired general manager Tommy Sheppard, who became LA’s most prominent trade partner in recent years.
The Wizards may no longer be a go-to trad partner for the Lakers.
Sheppard was named the interim general manager of the Wizards in 2019 but has been in Washington’s front office since 2003. He is a key member of the organization to let go and now Los Angeles may have lost a connection that was actually willing to do business with the team fairly.
While not every trade ended up being a good one for the Lakers, the Wizards always gave the Lakers a fair price. This was refreshing as there is an obvious Lakers tax that most other teams in the league seem to have, making LA pay more for the assets they want to bring in.
Los Angeles and Washington have made quite a few trades with Sheppard in the front office. All the way back in 2005 the team acquired Kwame Brown from the Wizards. The two teams went nine years without making another trade but once Sheppard grew into a larger role the deals started to flow.
In 2014 the Lakers acquired Jordan Clarkson for cash. In 2019 the Wizards actually played a key part in the Anthony Davis trade, which a lot of fans seem to forget. LA needed to free up some salary-cap space and to do so the team shipped Isaac Bonga, Jemerrio Jones, Moritz Wagner and a second-round pick to Washington.
In 2021 the two teams pulled off the ill-fated Russell Westbrook trade. That ended up being a disaster but just about every Lakers fans talked themselves into it at the time. And then during this past season, the Wizards traded Rui Hachimura to Los Angeles for an incredibly cheap price.
With Sheppard no longer in the building, there is no telling if LA and Washington will continue to have the same rapport. Perhaps that is a good thing, though, as it could save the Lakers from making another mistake and eventually taking on Bradley Beal’s massive contract.