The Los Angeles Lakers came into the 2023-24 season as one of the premier title contenders in the NBA. While the start of the season has not been bad, the Lakers have not looked like they are on the same level with the best teams in the NBA.
As a result, the Lakers have already been thrown into some of the most prominent NBA rumors to hit the early part of the season. Most notably, the Lakers have been circled as a potential destination for Zach LaVine, who will almost certainly be traded before the 2024 trade deadline.
Despite all of the chatter around the Lakers and any potential moves the team might make, it does not appear that the front office intends to make any moves. NBA insider Marc Stein detailed the Lakers’ thought process in his latest intel drop on his Substack.
"“I’m told the Lakers, at present, are focused on internal improvement, hopeful that getting Jarred Vanderbilt (who is ineligible to be traded this season after signing an extension with the Lakers in September) and Vincent back on the floor regularly will give them a meaningful boost.”"
NBA Rumors: Lakers unlikely to make any trades until Jarred Vanderbilt and Gabe Vincent come back
Los Angeles cannot make any meaningful trades until December 15, anyway, as that is the date when the team could trade its most movable assets. That being said, it does not look like that December 15 deadline is really what the Lakers are circling.
Instead, Rob Pelinka and the front office seem to be doing the right thing and are practicing patience. We are yet to see what this Lakers team looks like at full strength and it is hard to blame Pelinka for not wanting to make a potentially brash move without at least seeing the team at full strength first.
All that being said, this does not mean that a trade is completely off the table. The trade deadline is on February 8, giving the Lakers plenty of time to get Vando and Vincent back into the fold to see what the roster looks like with them playing consistently.
Even if both players don’t return until Christmas, the Lakers would have over a month of a sample size to look at and decide whether or not a move is necessary. Los Angeles may not be the first team to make trades before the deadline, but this mindset doesn’t completely rule it out, either.
However, at the very least, it is a good sign that the front office is not feeling desperation to jump at the first big move the team can make. Previous regimes (or this regime in previous years) may have done just that. Thankfully, this group has seemingly learned from its mistakes.