The Los Angeles Lakers are in trouble. After winning the NBA In-Season Tournament at the start of December, the Lakers stumbled through the rest of the month to head into the 2024 calendar year with a .500 record.
A .500 record is not the end of the world as there is plenty of time to right the ship but there is no denying that this team has underperformed. Injuries have decimated a rotation that Darvin Ham already struggles to manage as the head coach.
Los Angeles will naturally get more relief when the team gets healthy and the schedule eases up but the team needs external help as well. At this point, with how this team has been playing in December, the Lakers making a trade before the deadline seems like a guarantee.
There are a lot of different possibilities out there for the Lake Show and it all depends on which teams are willing to be sellers at the deadline. One team that will undoubtedly be a seller is the Washington Wizards, who have a very intriguing potential trade package for the Lakers to explore.
Lakers can add two starters from the Wizards in this trade package:
Washington is very clearly heading toward the top of the lottery and will undoubtedly be selling off its trade assets. Of those trade assets, point guard Tyus Jones is the most likely to be dealt as he is on an expiring contract. Center Daniel Gafford is not a lock to be traded, but he is a very interesting name that would fit this Lakers team perfectly.
In this hypothetical trade, the Lakers would be getting a point guard who can replace D'Angelo Russell and actually play in the starting five. Jones is a bit undersized but he is a reliable guard who would thrive on this Lakers team.
The six-one guard is by no means a defensive menace, but he is a serviceable perimeter defender who can knock down shots, help facilitate, and doesn't need a high usage rate. Jones is averaging 12.6 points, 5.5 assists and 1.2 steals in 28 minutes per game this season. He is shooting 53.7% from the field, 42.5% from three and 77.3% from the free-throw line.
Gafford, on the other hand, is a big who could definitely start for the Lakers if the team wanted to get rid of its over-commitment to one-way wings in the starting five. Gafford isn't a floor spacer so it would hurt the Lakers' spacing but it isn't like the team is trotting out great three-point shooters in the starting five as is. Replace Jarred Vanderbilt with Gafford and it can make sense.
Nikola Jokic openly admitted that the toughest matchup he has faced in his career was the 2020 Lakers when they had several talented bigs to throw at him. That should inspire the Lakers to go get a big that can be more than just a backend rotation player and that is what Gafford is. The young center is also on a three-year deal, so the Lakers can finally get continuity at the position.
As far as Washington goes, they get the perfect player to commit to the tank job while still being entertaining in D'Angelo Russell. The trio of Russell, Jordan Poole and Kyle Kuzma truly are the tanking all-stars.
The real value in this deal, though, would be the second-round picks and the addition of Jalen Hood-Schifino. JHS was just taken 17th overall and essentially gives the Wizards a first-round pick in this trade.