The Los Angeles Lakers were great on Friday night. They dominated one of the best teams in the Western Conference — the Denver Nuggets.
LeBron James scored 30 points, and the Lakers got positive contributions from several players. However, their best player — Anthony Davis — scored only 10 of the Lakers’ 126 points. The reason for the low scoring output, he left the game in the second quarter with a foot injury. The Athletic’s Shams Charania is reporting that Davis will be out for at least a month, but there is a significant chance that it will be longer.
Davis was finally turning into the player that the Lakers felt was worth trading a heaping pile of starting caliber players and future draft picks to acquire. He is averaging 27.3 points per game on nearly 60 percent from the field. Combine that with his usual stellar defense, and Davis was playing like a legitimate MVP candidate.
The Lakers got off to a ghastly start to the 2022-23 season, going 2-8. Largely due to Davis’ outstanding play, they have greatly improved and currently sit at 12-16. The playoffs are very much in reach, but with Davis out until possibly after Valentine’s Day it is very unlikely that the Lakers will be able to continue their winning ways.
Unless they make a trade.
They haven’t unloaded Westbrook’s expiring contract and their 2027 and 2029 first round draft picks with good reason. At the beginning of the year, they were losing too much to mortgage any more of their future, and as they started to win it made sense to hang on and wait for the best offer possible. The Lakers gave up too much for both Davis and Westbrook, and didn’t need to go all in on another deal.
There is no time left for a wait and see approach. James turns 38 years old at the end of this month. He cannot carry the Lakers for maybe 20 games, maybe more, while waiting for Davis to return.
Westbrook has played extremely well in his limited role with the Lakers. He has been coming off of the bench, playing less than 30 minutes per game, and playing with more restraint and efficiency when on the floor. He is going to have to shoulder more of an offensive burden if he remains on the roster, and that hasn’t worked out well since he has been in a Lakers uniform.
The Lakers have been linked in rumors to acquire Bojan Bogdonović, Myles Turner, Buddy Hield, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vučević, and even Evan Fournier and Cam Reddish. Of course that is not the most impressive group of names, but if the Lakers care about saving this season there is no time to be picky.
The clock is winding down quickly on their 2022-23 season. Their fortunes were looking up, but now they have to make a choice. Either act swiftly and make a trade to try and steady the ship until Davis can return, or punt on this season, and try to do something with all of their cap space this offseason, with James inching closer to 40 years old.