The Los Angeles Lakers are going to need to make improvements if the team is going to reach its goal of winning the NBA Championship. As currently constructed, this Lakers team is not good enough to beat the best of the best in the NBA.
With this in mind, the Lakers have become one of the most prominent teams to watch as the trade deadline approaches. Los Angeles may not make a big Russell Westbrook-like trade, but the team definitely should be doing something at the deadline.
It isn't just trades, though. As it currently stands the Lakers have 14 players on the active roster and more spots could open depending on what happens at the deadline. Los Angeles will continue to monitor the buyout market for veterans who can add a backend rotation presence.
Thanks to a trade between the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards on Sunday, the purple and gold have two new names to monitor as potential buyout targets: Danilo Gallinari and Mike Muscala.
Danilo Gallinari or Mike Muscala could be a Lakers buyout target after trade to Pistons
The headliner of the trade is Marvin Bagley III, who will head to Washington and try to turn his career around there. Detroit even had to trade second-round picks along with Bagley to get this deal done as the entire purpose was to get Bagley's contract off the books.
Both Gallinari and Muscala are on expiring contracts and there is no real reason for the Pistons to keep them around for the rest of the season. Detroit will keep both veterans on the team initially to see if they can turn around their season so the Pistons can try and trade them for a second-round pick or two. That likely won't happen and the most probable outcome is the two getting bought out.
Gallinari and Muscala are in a very similar boat and it can be hard to pick between the two if the Lakers have the option. Both are three-point specialist veterans who have struggled immensely behind the arc this season. However, there is enough track record to expect either veteran to turn it around when they aren't on a bad team like the Wizards.
Muscala might be the better logistical fit as he has more experience playing the five but either guy would be a small-ball option in the frontcourt. At their best, both Muscala and Gallinari can turn in 12-14 minutes off the bench to knock down some three-point shots as off-ball threats.
As mentioned, the numbers are bad this year but both guys have proven they can be reliable sharpshooters. Gallinari is a career 38.1% three-point shooter who has shot 40.8% from three in his last four seasons before the 2023-24 season. Muscala is a career 37.5% shooter who shot 39.1% in his last four seasons before the 2023-24 season.
Even if all they add is shooting, that is something that this Lakers team desperately needs off the bench. That need could be increased if certain players (like Rui Hachimura) are traded at the deadline.
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