Despite all of the struggles early in the 2023-24 season the Los Angeles Lakers still have not made a trade prior to Thursday's trade deadline. The overall trade market has been rather dormant thus far, so fans may have to give up on the dream of the Lake Show making a trade that turns the season around.
The biggest trade that the Lakers were rumored to be in talks about was for Atlanta's Dejounte Murray. However, with D'Angelo Russell not having much trade value and Quin Snyder wanting to keep Murray in Atlanta, the prospects of that trade quickly dwindled.
Thus, the Lakers might be forced to pivot and make a smaller trade but even those deals haven't come to fruition. It might get to a point where the Lakers can't make any possible trades, which could actually lead to the team pivoting altogether and trading away players at the deadline.
At least, that is what John Hollinger of the Athletic theorizes could happen. In his latest deadline intel dump, Hollinger outlined the possibility of the Lakers trading Christian Wood to get under the NBA's luxury tax threshold. And it wouldn't be to get picks in return, it would actually cost picks for LA.
"However, if L.A. doesn’t do a larger deal, don’t be surprised if the Lakers surrender a second-round pick to land Wood on another roster. His $3 million player option for next season will likely make this more expensive than a typical deal with a minimum expiring contact — it will likely require a real second and not just cash. But in L.A.’s case, the financial calculus of accessing the roughly $9 million tax distribution to below-tax teams is going to make it a worthwhile transaction."
Lakers may pay to give away Christian Wood at the trade deadline
How the mighty have fallen. When the Lakers signed Christian Wood shortly before the 2023-24 season started there was a large portion of the fanbase that was hyping up the transaction because of what Wood would bring offensively to the team. We here at Lake Show Life pushed back on all of the hype and what has happened since has been predictable.
Wood simply has not played well and he has once again proven to be an off-court distraction with his social media posts right before games. Wood walked back his post and said it was an accident, but we all know that his "Lol" post was in response to Darvin Ham not starting him while Anthony Davis was out.
Fast forward to February and Wood might not just be traded by the Lakers, but the team might have to actually attach a second-round pick and cash to get him off the roster. So why would the Lakers do this in the first place?
From a basketball standpoint, it could be addition by subtraction to get him out of the locker room. But the main reason to make this deal would be to get under the luxury tax threshold and receive a payment from the NBA as a result.
The taxes that are paid by every team over the threshold get distributed to the teams that are under the said threshold. As Hollinger alludes to, if the Lakers get under the threshold then they will get a payment of roughly $9 million instead of having to send money to the league. It does not impact the salary cap or anything of that nature, it is merely a cash flow situation.
That is the position that the Los Angeles Lakers are currently in ahead of the deadline and it is extremely telling. Instead of trading for someone exciting, the best move the Lakers might make is a move where the team gives away assets just so ownership can save some cash.