Lakers Rumors: Trade Market, Reaves, Russell, Vincent

After completing a 4-2 road trip with a victory in Charlotte on Monday, Lakers star LeBron James was asked if he thinks the team has enough to contend as is, or if an upgrade is needed on the trade market.

“It’s not a question for me,” James responded, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “I love who we have in the locker room. And that’s all I worry about. … We’re going to go out and prepare ourselves every single night no matter what it is. No matter who’s out on this team. No matter what.”

A team source tells McMenamin that Lakers head of basketball operations Rob Pelinka has been “stuck on calls” all day recently in search of trades that would make sense for the club. As Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes, Los Angeles would like to add another solid wing defender – ideally one who can shoot – and continues to seek a player who fits that bill.

Dejounte Murray, Dorian Finney-Smith, Jerami Grant, and Bruce Brown are still among the players who appeal to the Lakers, according to Buha, but Austin Reaves remains off limits in a deal for a trade target of that caliber, and veterans like D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, and Gabe Vincent aren’t nearly as coveted on the trade market. That means the club would have to add draft assets – including possibly its 2029 first-rounder and/or a first-round pick swap – in order to make a meaningful upgrade.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • The odds that the Lakers stand pat or just make a minor tweak along the edges of the roster have increased in recent days, writes Buha. There are a few reasons for that, Buha explains: L.A. has grown more confident in the possibility of internal improvement, the trade market favors sellers rather than buyers, and the team recognizes it could make a more significant move in the offseason when it has more first-round picks available to trade.
  • As trade rumors swirl around him, Russell was asked on Monday why he willingly gave up his right to veto a trade when he re-signed with the Lakers last summer. “I just thought it made sense,” Russell said, per McMenamin. “Obviously I’ve been here before, I played for the Lakers before, so I know what the requirements are to be successful here are. So, if you’re part of the future here you’ll be successful. If you’re not, you’ll get traded. And I’ve been traded before here. So, my approach is just a little different.”
  • Russell’s name has been mentioned in trade talks with the Nets, Hawks, and Raptors in recent weeks, sources tell McMenamin. Among players on those teams, Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, Royce O’Neale, Murray, and Brown have all been connected to the Lakers.
  • Vincent appears on track to return to the court in early March, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. It’s not a sure thing that the injured guard will still be a Laker by then – since his name has popped up in some trade rumors – but he was given a recovery timeline of about eight-to-10 weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in late December and remains on that schedule, Fischer says.
  • The Lakers have used 15 different starting lineups this season. As Khobi Price of The Orange County Register writes, head coach Darvin Ham is hoping his latest one – James, Anthony Davis, Hachimura, Reaves, and Russell – will stick. Of course, if either Hachimura or Russell is traded this week, that starting five will have already played its last game together.
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