Although they didn’t make a blockbuster trade this offseason, the Lakers won’t necessarily stick with their current roster for the entire 2022/23 season. Still, it will probably be at least a few weeks before we can expect the trade market to heat up for the team, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said during a Wednesday appearance on NBA Countdown (video link).
“I’m told to expect Rob Pelinka and the Lakers to wait until post-Thanksgiving, 20 games into the season,” Wojnarowski said. “And see what teams may start pivoting who don’t start off well, who decide that they may start to unload players and perhaps get involved in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.”
As Wojnarowski explains, there have been more buyers than sellers at the deadline during the last couple seasons since so many teams were still within reach of the play-in tournament. But the expectation in 2022/23 is that several of the clubs in the bottom half of the standings might be more inclined to prioritize their lottery position in order to chase Wembanyama instead of trying to sneak into the play-in tournament.
If and when that shift occurs, the Lakers could revisit the marketplace to see what Russell Westbrook‘s expiring $47MM contract and their 2027 and/0r 2029 first-round picks might get them.
“There were so many buyers the last couple years. The expectation is there will be more sellers this year. You’ll start to see the asking price in trades go down. It’s supply and demand,” Wojnarowski said. “So expect the Lakers really to get to that 20-game point where teams kind of reach an inflection point about how they want to proceed, and then see what might really be available to help improve this Lakers team.”
Wojnarowski’s report makes sense, but it’s also entirely in line with how the NBA’s trade market usually develops during the season. Pre-Thanksgiving deals are always rare.
The last time two teams made an in-season trade prior to Thanksgiving was back in 2018, when Jimmy Butler was sent from Minnesota to Philadelphia — and that deal was only completed so early because the Timberwolves’ situation, beginning in training camp, was deemed untenable, with Butler aggressively pushing for a deal.
While the Lakers may feel increasing urgency to make a change to their roster if they get off to a slow start this season, they’re not yet nearly as desperate to make a deal as those 2018 Wolves were.