Locker Room Leaders Believe Lakers Are “Couple Of Players Away” From Contention

Sources tell ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that there’s a “shared belief by leaders in the Lakers‘ locker room that the team is only a couple of players away” from contention. He doesn’t list them by name, but presumably McMenamin is referring to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

McMenamin mostly focuses on the pros and cons of the potential Russell Westbrook for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner deal with the Pacers that fell apart before the season when the Lakers refused to include both of their movable first-round picks (2027 and 2029). L.A. faces Indiana on Monday night.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski previously reported that the Lakers were going to wait until around Thanksgiving to evaluate the team before making any changes. McMenamin reports that the timeline has been adjusted to December 15, when most free agents signed in the offseason become trade-eligible.

However, as McMenamin notes, December trades are pretty rare because “league business slows down around the holidays,” so he views mid-January as a more likely timeframe for potential trades. If the 11-8 Pacers keep winning, the Lakers believe Pacers owner Herb Simon might be unwilling to trade Hield and Turner for a deal focused on draft capital, preferring to field a more competitive club.

The Lakers have played better of late, winning five of their past six games, and currently sit with a 7-11 record. But their schedule was pretty soft during that stretch (three wins over the Spurs, one over the Pistons), and they’re about to play 15 of their next 23 games on the road, per McMenamin.

McMenamin suggests the Lakers might be better off making a couple of trades instead of going all-in on the Pacers deal — one involving Westbrook and one first-rounder, and another involving Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn and the other first-round pick — to get impact players. That’s assuming the front office decides the team has a legitimate shot at title contention, of course.

Whichever path they take, whether it be minor or major trades, the Lakers are focused on upgrading their perimeter shooting and size, sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

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