Lakers' Last-Minute Trade Targets Before 2021 NBA Deadline

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 23, 2021

Lakers' Last-Minute Trade Targets Before 2021 NBA Deadline

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Lakers are running on fumes, but that's hopefully a temporary status.

    It could get dicey for a little bit. L.A., which has a losing record across its past 15 games, just saw LeBron James (ankle) join Anthony Davis (Achilles) on the injury report. Given how critical these players are to the franchise's championship plans, the Lakers might keep them bubble-wrapped for the foreseeable future.

    Eventually, they will work their way back on to the hardwood, but L.A. could get a roster reinforcement or two before that happens. The first opportunity to do so is between now and Thursday's NBA trade deadline.

    If the Lakers want to swing a deal before the 3 p.m. ET cutoff, these are three likely targets.

George Hill, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Lakers could use another shot-creator and some defensive versatility on the perimeter. They are always in the market for more shooting, and any player brought in needs the veteran know-how to bring himself up to speed quickly.

    George Hill checks every possible box.

    While not a primary playmaker, he could run the offense in spurts to lighten the load shouldered by James and Dennis Schroder. Hill will rarely be over his head in any backcourt defensive assignment, and his three-ball has long ranked among the most lethal weapons in his offensive arsenal. The 34-year-old also has 127 playoff games under his belt, 19 of which he spent alongside James on the 2017-18 Cleveland Cavaliers.

    Hill should have several win-now suitors, so he won't come cheap. But if the Lakers find the wiggle room for a small splurge, this might be where to make it.

JJ Redick, New Orleans Pelicans

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    James has always worked best when surrounded by shooters. JJ Redick is an extreme example of that label.

    He's much more of a marksman than the label implies. He holds top-20 all-time spots in career threes (15th) and three-point percentage (17th). He's no less than a flamethrower when he gets both eyes on the basket.

    The 36-year-old had some uncharacteristic struggles early this season, and his stat sheet hasn't quite recovered. There aren't a ton of players who would mind averaging 1.6 nightly splashes at a 36.4 percent clip, but with Redick, those are numbers he hadn't seen in more than a decade.

    They also aren't numbers likely to persist all season, and even on the off chance that they did, defenders wouldn't use them as reasons to give him any airspace on the perimeter. That means he would give maximum spacing to James and Davis at the very least and probably a bunch of made triples directly off of their dimes.

Hassan Whiteside, Sacramento Kings

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    Hector Amezcua/Associated Press

    The Lakers double-dipped at the center spot in free agency with Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol. If last year was any indication, they will reserve the biggest chunk of their playoff minutes at the 5 for Davis.

    That's a long-winded way of saying L.A. probably isn't looking to invest a ton into the center spot, even if it seems like an area the club could upgrade. The Lakers have missed the above-the-rim element that Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee added to last season's squad, and if they could scratch that itch for cheap, they would almost certainly do it.

    They could wait out the buyout market and hope a player like Andre Drummond falls into their laps, but that's a risky strategy without much of a backup plan. The smarter move might be making a budget addition now, such as taking Hassan Whiteside off of the Sacramento Kings' hands.

    He's not super bouncy or the nimblest side-to-side mover, but he can flood the box score with boards and blocks, categories in which he has previously paced the Association. At the right price, he would be worth a small investment to give this frontcourt a different dimension.


    Statistics used courtesy of Basketball Reference and Salary information obtained via Basketball Insiders.