Lakers Trade Targets with 2022 NBA Trade Deadline a Month Away

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2022

Lakers Trade Targets with 2022 NBA Trade Deadline a Month Away

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Lakers have turned the 2021-22 NBA season into a personal series of peaks and valleys.

    Their current stretch of four wins in five games was preceded by a five-game losing streak. It's been stop-and-go like that throughout the campaign.

    Clearly, this roster needs work, but the front office must figure out how to fix the team's issues. The Lakers are short on trade chips, and they don't have many big salaries to dangle, assuming that no one wants Russell Westbrook at his astronomic price.

    L.A. can't take aim at the top tier of 2022 trade targets, but maybe a package involving Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and a future first-round pick is enough to nab someone from the second. Keeping that budget in mind, let's examine three targets worth exploring between now and the Feb. 10 trade deadline.

Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs

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    If the Lakers look for backcourt help, they would be searching for a specific set of skills. They need a guard who can play off the ball—since Westbrook and LeBron James will handle most possessions—make outside shots and hold his own defensively.

    That's more or less the description of Derrick White, although his three-ball has been slow to come around this season (career-worst 28.9 percent). But if the Lakers are confident he will bounce back (he's a career 34.1 percent shooter), they might appreciate the early struggles if it keeps his trade cost within their price range.

    The San Antonio Spurs won't be in a rush to move White, but they might be receptive to the idea for a couple of reasons. First, he's less consistent than you would like from a player making $15.2 million this season with an escalating salary over the next three years, per Spotrac. Second, he's a touch old for a rebuild (27), so the Spurs might want to move him out to create more minutes for younger guards like Lonnie Walker IV and Joshua Primo.

    If the Lakers can open a trade path to White, he could shine as a high-level role player who makes them at least marginally better in a lot of different areas.

Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons

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    It's possible Jerami Grant sits outside of the Lakers' budget, but that's the Detroit Pistons' call to make. It shouldn't stop L.A. from showing interest—and apparently hasn't, as The Athletic's Shams Charania reported the Lakers are among the teams pursuing Grant.

    Once Grant returns from thumb surgery, he could be exactly what the Lakers defense needs to get back its mojo.

    He has the requisite length, strength and quickness to hang with the best big-wing scorers around. His scoring numbers would plummet upon moving away from the otherwise punch-less Pistons, but Grant could feast on corner threes (like he once did for the Denver Nuggets) and might have more chances to create his own shot than expected.

    The Lakers need more players who add value on both ends of the floor. When Grant is right, he is a two-way asset.

Kenrich Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    It's possible that the Lakers won't want to sacrifice their remaining assets to add a notable name. It's also possible their best trade package simply won't be good enough to get one.

    Either way, L.A. could find itself searching for cheaper alternatives, and Kenrich Williams might be a sneaky-good one.

    While clouded in the anonymity of being a role player for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Williams has flashed skills that could perk up any second unit. He can play either forward position and capably defend even more spots. While he doesn't shoot a high volume of threes, he has buried 42.3 percent of the ones he has taken since the start of last season. His motor is top-notch, and he always stays in his lane as a support piece.

    The Lakers need more defense-first hustlers like him in the rotation. While his frame and game don't resemble those of Alex Caruso, Williams could wind up being a similar kind of energizer.