The Lakers come out of the trade deadline the same team they were heading into it. Not a single move made, though it remains unclear how hard they pushed to make something happen.
What we do know, errr — what we see being reported, is that the Lakers refused to part with Kyle Kuzma in a trade with the Knicks centered around Marcus Morris. I, for one, think this is the smart move. I said on twitter hours before the deadline I wouldn’t trade for Morris at all; that I did not want him on the Lakers at all.
I’m not going to bash Morris here as I believe him to be a fine player who is playing quite well this year. That said, Morris does not fill a big need for this team in the role he’d be playing on this roster — basically the role that Kuzma currently occupies.
Morris is shooting the ball very well this year, but I am skeptical of him maintaining a shooting percentage 7% higher than his career norms when he’s handling the ball so much less, when his green light is dialed back to yellow, and when the consequences for those shots are much higher than what they are on a Knicks team going nowhere. I think it’s dangerous to think stats stay steady across what will be significantly different roles.
As for the Lakers other pursuits at the deadline, there weren’t many. The Lakers want of a point guard went unfulfilled, though there seems to be hope building that Darren Collison will choose the Lakers should he come out of retirement. The Clippers remain an option there, too, but one report states that many around the league believe Collison’s preference is the Lakers. We’ll see.
After all that, then, the buyout market is likely where the Lakers would look to improve their roster, if they’re able to at all. Collison is the main name we’ll hear, but a report has the Lakers potentially working out JR Smith and there have been rumblings that more buyouts are coming — potentially even Marvin Williams (though Michael Jordan’s frugalness may not allow him to pay a player to go away and latch on with a playoff team).
I do think the Clippers got stronger on paper at the deadline. We’ll see if it plays out that way on the court. There’s a lot of competitive “tough” guys in that locker room and how that mix goes when minutes are tighter and roles are altered is always an open question. To say nothing of the fact that they now have expectations as the clear favorites to win the title. Only Kawhi has experienced anything like that before and we’ll see how they all respond. I’ve no sense either way, but if you told me they’ll be fine, I’d believe it. Just like if you told me things could go somewhat sideways, I’d believe that too.
Because no one is infallible. And that includes the Lakers, obviously. The holes they have on their roster are real and unless those are addressed, their ability to win will depend on what other teams are able to accomplish as much as what the Lakers bring to the table themselves. That’s been true for a lot of title teams, but as people with rooting interests, I think we’d all prefer better odds. Time will tell.