Lakers News: Jeremy Lamb Trade Rumors, LeBron Usage, Jeanie Buss on Frank Vogel

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2021

Lakers News: Jeremy Lamb Trade Rumors, LeBron Usage, Jeanie Buss on Frank Vogel

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The lackluster start to the Los Angeles Lakers' 2021-22 season has some questioning what needs to change in order for the team to meet lofty expectations based on the star power and media attention focused on it.

    Is it time to blow things up and make a trade that could help better establish on-court chemistry? Might head coach Frank Vogel be on the chopping block if things do not improve in short order?

    What about LeBron James leading the team in minutes when the influx of star players was supposed to help preserve him more?

    Those three questions are addressed in the latest round of Lakers news.

Lakers Interested in Trading for Jeremy Lamb

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star (h/t Jacob Rude of Silver Screen and Roll) reported the Lakers have shown interest in acquiring Jeremy Lamb from the Pacers.

    More than the lack of contracts available to acquire Lamb or the financial strain it would take on the team, the most curious thing about this rumor is the targeting of a player who has struggled to stay healthy over the last year when the Lakers themselves have been bitten by the injury bug in the first quarter of the season.

    Michael compared Lamb's situation to that of former Indiana star Victor Oladipo: "The same goes for Lamb, who has to play again and look healthy before a team commits to him. That his contract is expiring adds to his value." 

    Assuming Lamb would prove to be healthy, the Lakers would have to get crafty with several contracts, including that of Kendrick Nunn, to even make a deal a possibility. As Rude pointed out, there is a real possibility the rumor itself is a tactic to bring the Pacers to the negotiating table.

    "Ultimately, this feels like a leverage ploy by either the Pacers or Lamb’s agent to include the Lakers and drive up his trade value. There may have been a time in the buildup to the offseason that the Lakers showed interest in Lamb, but that almost certainly went away with the Westbrook trade," he wrote.

    In 19 games played this season, Lamb has averaged 13.9 minutes, 7.3 points-per-game and is perfect from the free-throw line.

LeBron on His Minutes

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    LeBron James isn't worried about his current usage in L.A., per's Mark Medina.

    The sport's most recognizable star said: "I don't get involved on how many minutes I've played, or how many days off. I don't confine to that. I think when you think negative thoughts and have negative energy, it just creeps into your mind. I feel as young as I've ever been."

    Head coach Vogel said in response to recent questions about James' time on the floor: "We're always monitoring his load and just being intelligent with it. Obviously the overtime games are what they are. He's going to be in there for those, but like you said, he has missed some time. The totality is I think less of a concern than if he played a triple-overtime game and then you played the next night, do you exercise caution in those instances? It's just something that literally we monitor on a daily basis. We rely on the medical team and feedback on how he's feeling and make smart decisions."

    The number of stars brought into Los Angeles this offseason should have reduced the reliance on James to be on the floor as much as he has been, but LeBron leads the team in minutes-played with 36.8.

    James has missed half of the Lakers' games this year because of injury and one because of COVID-19 protocols, but he has dominated floor time when he does play.

    The team has underperformed considerably given the stars it has brought into the fold for the 2021-22 season, perhaps enhancing the pressure the star player puts on himself to carry the load in hopes to turn things around.

Jeanie Buss on Coach Frank Vogel

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Lakers' All-Star squad has been ravaged by injuries thus far in the season, preventing them from realizing their fullest potential and landing them a mediocre 13-12 record, which is good enough for the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

    Despite early disappointment with the team's performance, Jeanie Buss is not ready to assess coach Vogel until the team is healthy, per Medina.

    "Until we're 100 percent healthy, I don't think you can really make any judgment," she said during Tuesday's game. "We're as connected as any organization can be. I really don't know what you're looking for me to say. I would say until we're 100 percent healthy, I won't make any judgments about anything."

    Nor should she.

    It is impossible to judge a team's performance when it has not been as advertised. Injuries have prevented the All-Star lineup from sharing the floor as consistently as team officials hoped. Until that happens, and Buss has an opportunity to assess the entirety of the operation, it makes no sense to make a rash judgment that will put L.A. in the market for a new coach.

    The team needs time to jell, to grow as one and evolve. Upsetting the (perhaps nonexistent) chemistry by hiring a new coach in the middle of the season will only make for a more frustrating experience for the players and organization as a whole.