The NBA trade deadline is less than two months away, meaning that teams are already gearing up to make some roster changes. Most will remain patient going into the new year as they continue to looks for answers on their own roster, while others have already determined areas of weaknesses that that could improve. Most moves done around the trade deadline are usually by teams who are set to enter the postseason in 2019, so they will be aiming to reinforce their current roster with as much talent as possible.
The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to be one of the many franchises that bring some new names into the mix as they prepare to challenge in the Western Conference. While the team has done well thus far, LeBron James will need more assistance if the Lakers intend to make a deep run in the playoffs. In the East, James was able to carry less than impressive teams to the Finals, but that would be quite the task in the current West. There is stiff competition among all teams involved with only the Golden State Warriors being a standout among the rest.
The Lakers have many options to explore; they could acquire a second star by using some of their prospects and draft picks. But they may choose to wait until the summer to go for a big name, while making some tweaks to the roster as far as role players are concerned. Here are 10 players the Los Angeles Lakers should acquire at the deadline and 10 they should avoid:
20 Should Acquire: Terrence Ross
Terrence Ross has reportedly become the latest target for the Los Angeles Lakers. As the team continues searching for answers to their bench woes, Ross would be a good option as he is having a solid season. He isn't the type of player who will provide much outside of scoring, but the Lakers could certainly use his scoring and field goal percentage from the three-point land. With the Orlando Magic competing for a playoff spot, they may be unwilling to part with him during mid-season unless the Lakers can offer them an intriguing piece in return, although they certainly won't have to overpay since Ross will hit the free agent market in July.
19 Should Avoid: J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith would have been a welcomed addition to the Los Angeles Lakers a few years ago. But he hasn't been the same player since the Cleveland Cavaliers won a championship in 2016, and he displayed clear signs of regression last season. While he happens to be a good friend of LeBron James, the latter may not be so keen to bring him to the team, knowing that J.R.'s best days are behind him. That's not to mention that he probably still hasn't gotten over Smith's costly mistake in Game 1 of the 2018 Finals, so the Lakers are better off avoiding him.
18 Should Acquire: Bradley Beal
Now that the Washington Wizards may be splitting their core, Bradley Beal could be on the trade block. He would be the perfect fit next to LeBron James since he is a great scorer who can play off the ball, but he will most likely be costly for the Lakers. However, if they are serious about making a deep playoff run, then they should get Beal as soon as possible. With Beal on the team, Lakers would likely establish themselves as the second best team in the Western Conference. That's not to mention that he is currently on a great contract.
17 Should Avoid: Eric Gordon
During the summer, the Houston Rockets were exploring different trade scenarios involving Eric Gordon although they ended up keeping him on the roster. They may come to regret this move if he doesn't turn around his season as soon as possible. Gordon has been struggling to start the 2018-19 year, and has been one of the reasons behind the Rockets' slow start. At his very best, Gordon would make a good addition to the Lakers roster, but that's only if the team is willing to take a risk on him. Considering his level of production and the open market, the deal is not worth it for the Lakers.
16 Should Acquire: Wayne Ellington
The Los Angeles Lakers may not land another big name until free agency, but they certainly need to improve their role players. Wayne Ellington from the Miami Heat shouldn't cost them much to acquire, especially since he isn't exactly having a great season. But he is a career shooter of nearly 40% from the three-point mark, so the Lakers could definitely use his shooting off the bench. He also happens to be an expiring contract, and given that he doesn't feature in a big role for the Miami Heat, Ellington could be brought to strengthen the Lakers' bench at the upcoming trade deadline.
15 Should Avoid: Wesley Matthews
The Dallas Mavericks seem determined to move Wesley Matthews whether it is through a trade or by waiving him if the former doesn't work out. Although he hasn't been a great fit on the Mavs, Matthews isn't a bad player by any means and could thrive in the right situation. But given his rapid decline, the Lakers should pursue a younger option - some of whom have been listed here. With an $18 million salary for the season, the Mavs have struggled to find many suitors for Matthews, so it would be wise for the Lakers to also pass on him if the opportunity should come.
14 Should Acquire: Nikola Vucevic
The Orlando Magic have found themselves close to postseason berth for the first time since Dwight Howard's departure, and Nikola Vucevic has been one of the main factors behind their success. Not only is he averaging a double-double, but Vucevic has also been incredibly efficient as a shooter. He is set to become a free agent in the summer, and some reports suggest that Vucevic may not return to Orlando since the team had been attempting to trade him for the past two seasons. The addition of Vucevic would instantly make the Lakers a better team and he would form a very good duo with LeBron James.
13 Should Avoid: Enes Kanter
Much like Nikola Vucevic, Enes Kanter is also averaging a double-double, although many accuse him of putting up empty stats. Given that he is on a bad team, Kanter has a free reign to feature on the offense, which inflates his numbers to a certain degree. He definitely isn't a three-point shooter, and since many big men are now able to connect from behind the arc - the Lakers would be better off pursuing one of them. That's not to dismiss Kanter as a player who could still contribute positively to a number of teams; but he isn't worth it for the Lakers.
12 Should Acquire: Kent Bazemore
Kent Bazemore is expected to garner interest of many teams as the trade deadline approaches, and the Los Angeles Lakers could very well chase him. He would be a nice addition to their bench as Bazemore can score, rebound and defend well. And while he is struggling from the 3 this year, Bazemore is usually shooting above league average so he will likely bounce back at some point.
Unless the Lakers can find a better option via trade, then Bazemore would be a good alternative for this season. He would definitely be an upgrade over some of their wing players right now.
11 Should Avoid: Rodney Hood
A former teammate of LeBron James, Rodney Hood got to play with him for the second half of the 2017-18 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Hood hasn't been quite as good as the hype surrounding him, and given how he played for the Cavs last season, James may not be so keen to recruit him to the Lakers. His current situation fits him since Hood gets to develop on a losing team in hopes of getting his career back on track. On the other hand, the Lakers are in need to win now and cannot afford to have another project on their hands.
10 Should Acquire: Kemba Walker
Despite having Lonzo Ball and Rajon Rondo on the roster, many believe that the Los Angeles Lakers need a better point guard going forward. They are still banking on Ball reaching his potential in the near future, although his sophomore year hasn't been very encouraging thus far. One of the biggest names who could resolve many of the Lakers' ongoing problems is Kemba Walker, who is having a brilliant season for the Hornets.
Now that he is nearing free agency, the Hornets may be willing to part ways with Walker to avoid losing him for nothing. It would be a good deal for both sides since Walker would thrive in the Lakers' current system.
9 Should Avoid: Jeremy Lin
While the Lakers do need an upgrade at PG, Jeremy Lin is simply not the answer. He is having a solid season thus far for the Atlanta Hawks, but Lin has been too injury prone in recent years - which makes him an unreliable fit for a team such as the Lakers. That's not to mention that he previously played for them and it didn't end on a great note. Unless they can acquire Lin for very little in exchange, then the team would be wise to identify other options around the league since the days of Linsanity are long gone now.
8 Should Acquire: Justin Holiday
The Chicago Bulls have a number of players who could be on the move, among them is Justin Holiday who is unlikely to finish the season with his current team. Given the ongoing drama with the Bulls, Holiday would likely welcome a move away where he could flourish in a better environment. He would make a great fit on the Lakers since Holiday is a good all-around player who is more than capable of hitting three pointers on consistent basis. And with a salary of $4.3 million, the Lakers could realistically acquire him in a trade using one of their pieces.
7 Should Avoid: Kevin Love
With a four-year, $120 million extension signed in the summer, any team that trades for Kevin Love will likely have to keep him on the roster until his deal is up in the summer of 2023. He remains a good player as of now, but not many competitive teams would be willing to throw that sum at a player who isn't good enough to be the second option on a legitimate contender. That's not to mention that Love also has a reputation for being an injury prone player, so he isn't exactly reliable going forward as he is already 30 years old.
6 Should Acquire: Damian Lillard
There have been reports claiming that LeBron James is highly interested in playing with Damian Lillard. Given the Portland Trail Blazers' limited ceiling in the Western Conference, the franchise may be finally tempted to go through a full rebuild. Their current core is among the most expensive in the league and yet they have failed to achieve much beyond regular season success.
The Lakers could put up an intriguing offer that the Blazers would have to consider, especially if Lillard grows frustrated with the team. The opportunity to play with LeBron may be too exciting to turn down, especially since Lillard would likely mesh well with him.
5 Should Avoid: John Wall
In recent weeks, John Wall has been made available in trade talks, and the Los Angeles Lakers have been brought up as a potential destination. For the past few seasons, Wall has been among the best PGs in the NBA, but the Lakers want no part of his massive contract. Considering that he will remain on the books until 2022-23, the Lakers would be very limited with the remaining roster moves as they will be unable to contend during the LeBron James era. Wall should only be seen as a last resort move if they happen to miss out on all top free agents this upcoming summer.
4 Should Acquire: Kawhi Leonard
This is the most far fetched move possible since Kawhi Leonard is likely to finish the season with the Toronto Raptors, but it would make sense to go for a championship this year while both Leonard and LeBron James are healthy. All reports continue suggesting that Leonard is aiming to move to Los Angeles via free agency, so the Lakers would be wise to get him as soon as possible. They would obviously have to give the Raptors a generous offer to convince them to give up Kawhi, and the Raps may be tempted to do it if they realize that he won't be re-signing.
3 Should Avoid: Carmelo Anthony
It's safe to say that Carmelo Anthony experienced a far better ending to his career. Even last season, he was still laughing at the notion of coming off the bench, and now he finds himself unemployed. Almost two months have passed by since the Houston Rockets informed him that he was no longer in their future plans, and Melo hasn't generated much interest around the NBA.
The Rockets kept him on the roster since they could use him in a potential trade, but the Lakers should avoid bringing him over. Despite his longtime friendship with LeBron James, Melo is no longer worth the risk with his apparent decline and refusal to take a smaller role.
2 Should Acquire: Anthony Davis
This is obviously the biggest long shot as the Pelicans are in no rush to trade Anthony Davis and the best bet is that if Davis were to get traded, it would be in the summer, or perhaps a year from now, when he's closer to his 2021 free agency period. The seeds have been planted for LeBron and Davis to eventually join forces, but with LeBron having just turned 34 there is some sense of urgency to get LeBron another superstar while he's still the league's best player. If the Lakers want Davis now though, they'd likely have to sell the farm.
1 Should Avoid: Markelle Fultz
It seems like the Philadelphia 76ers are already done Markelle Fultz and ready to move on from the first overall pick of the 2017 Draft. Due to his struggles on the court and recent diagnosis, teams haven't been inquiring about Fultz's availability as the 76ers had anticipated. And you can add the Los Angeles Lakers to the list of franchises that should avoid trading for him since the team is in win now mode. Fultz is a project in the works who could eventually put it all together to reach his potential, but the Lakers simply don't have the time to develop him right now.