The trade deadline came and went on Thursday afternoon, and after days spent discussing possible deals with 29 other teams, Rob Pelinka said the Lakers didn’t find one that made enough sense to complete.
“We were aggressive in a lot of conversations trying to improve the team – we always want to put this team in the best position to win a championship,” L.A.’s VP of Basketball Ops said on a conference call. “But ultimately we didn’t find a deal that had a net positive effect for the short term success of the team and the long term, and those are both things we consider.”
The Lakers (26-30) have struggled during this 2021-22 season, battling through injuries to most of the roster, and notably, LeBron James (17 games missed) and Anthony Davis (21 games missed). Most recently, L.A. lost back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday to fall four games below .500, which has them in the No. 9 spot in the West.
And yet, if the right deal wasn’t there, the Lakers weren’t going to make it. They’ll look for some internal improvement, starting with health, which could include the eventual debut of Kendrick Nunn. He was set to be their backup point guard, and perhaps feature in closing lineups, but a bone bruise in his knee has kept him off the floor all season. Pelinka said they hope he’s able to return in late March.
Pelinka added that the Lakers have “Shown the ability to be nimble on the fly,” by adding Stanley Johnson from their G-League roster, elevating Austin Reaves from a two-way deal in the offseason and picking vet Avery Bradley up off waivers.
The other way to improve this season’s roster is via the buyout market. Most recently, the acquisition of Markieff Morris in that way, in March of 2020, helped the Lakers win the championship. That, of course, remains the only goal moving forward, as well.
“It’s important to remember that the metric of success here is, you win a championship or we don’t,” Pelinka explained. “There’s no middle ground. We have to be on a pathway to put this team in a position to try and compete for and win championships. That takes the support of one another, and I know that’s going on internally despite what others might say.
“When it comes to finding success when a team is not winning, I think the most important action is for everyone to look in the mirror and be better. That includes the front office, it includes the coaches, it includes the players.”