The NBA trade deadline (Feb. 18) is rapidly approaching with only a few more weeks left for teams around the league to make deals. The Los Angeles Lakers are usually as active as any team in the NBA around this time of year, but there’s only been a handful of rumors floating around about the team’s intentions.
According to Kevin Pelton of ESPN, Hassan Whiteside is the logical trade target for the Lakers with the deadline right around the corner:
The Lakers’ biggest long-term need is for a center who can protect the rim and function as a roll man with rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell. With DeMarcus Cousins assuredly out of the picture with the Sacramento Kings fighting for a playoff spot, just months after the Lakers reportedly pursued Cousins, that could make Whiteside an obvious target in free agency this summer.
At this point, Whiteside’s future with the Miami Heat is uncertain to say the least. The 26-year-old center is due for a massive payday this summer when he hits the free-agent market in July, and a long-term future in South Beach might not be in the cards.
Pelton speculates the Lakers brass could be motivated to acquire Whiteside before the deadline to prevent the Heat from trading him elsewhere:
Because the Lakers would have to use cap space to sign Whiteside to a max-type contract whether he is on their roster or not, trading players or picks for him would only make sense to prevent the Miami Heat from trading him elsewhere at the deadline.
The real question moving forward is whether the Lakers can put together the right trade package to intrigue the Heat over the next few weeks. Three players on the team’s roster have been mentioned in trade rumors recently with Roy Hibbert, Nick Young, and Brandon Bass possibly on the trading block in Los Angeles.
It is uncertain whether Miami would be willing to part with Whiteside for any of the players mentioned, but they may be part of the discussion if general manager Mitch Kupchak reaches out to the Heat in the coming weeks.