With NBA trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Los Angeles Lakers figure to be one of the more intriguing teams to keep an eye on. Multiple teams, including the New Orleans Pelicans, have reportedly made offers for Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle.
Other proposals include draft picks heading back to Los Angeles in return, as they have primarily focused on freeing up enough cap space to pursue two max-contract free agents this summer. But in the wake of a new report that the Lakers are shifting their focus to the 2019 free agent class, clearing salary no longer becomes an immediate priority.
Instead, Los Angeles can be more opportunistic and explore various avenues, including taking on short-term contracts to acquire further assets. According to Ramona Shelburne Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers will continue listening to offers for Clarkson and Randle, but the odds of a trade deal occurring are resemblant to a coin flip:
While the Lakers could still move either or both players before Thursday’s trade deadline, one league source put the chances of a meaningful trade at “50-50 at best.”
Before the Lakers’ change of heart, it was understood that one or both of Clarkson and Randle had to be moved in order to free up the necessary cap space to pursue two of LeBron James, Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins.
But now the front office has the luxury of holding onto both aforementioned players, and can wait out the market until they receive offers they can’t refuse.
While it’s no secret that Los Angeles would love to unload Luol Deng’s contract elsewhere, they can afford to prolong the situation another year when his contract length will decrease and perhaps become more appeasing to another team.
At the very least, they’ll have the option to utilize the stretch provision this offseason and knock off one year from which they would pay the remainder of Deng’s salary.
The Lakers are 11-4 over their last 15 games — easily their best stretch of the season — and second-best in the NBA during that span of games. Standing pat at the trade deadline is a viable option, given the team’s excellent chemistry on the court and overall performance since the start of the new year.
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