A year after the Los Angeles Lakers won just 33 games, they once again got off to a tumultuous start, going 2-10 to begin the season. They’ve since rallied to a 13-16 record, thanks in large part to Anthony Davis playing arguably the best basketball of his 11-year career.
Only now, ‘The Brow’ is set to miss at least a month of action with a foot injury. Missing their MVP of the season so far, the Lakers will be hard-pressed to maintain their recent momentum. In turn, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if general manager Rob Pelinka makes a trade to ensure the Lakers don’t tumble down the Western Conference standings.
In response to the Davis injury, here are three trade targets to help salvage what could easily spiral into another lost season in L.A.
Lakers add more size with Nikola Vucevic trade
- Los Angeles Lakers trade: Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn, first-round picks in 2027, 2029
- Chicago Bulls trade: Nikola Vucevic
Now that the Lakers have a massive void in the frontcourt, they could simply turn to backup Thomas Bryant and hope he can continue his impressive PER-36 numbers, averaging 21 PPG plus 10.2 RPG, but he’s never been able to sustain his shooting efficiency — or at least not on the career-best path he’s currently on.
Even then, the Lakers may view the Davis injury as a reason to act quickly before their season takes a tumble. One potential trade target could include Chicago’s two-time All-Star center Nikola Vucevic.
The Bulls are also struggling this season, sitting 1.5 game out of the play-in tourney. While that doesn’t sound so bad, Chicago is seven games below .500 and could look to retool or hit the reset button altogether. If so, Vucevic could emerge as a prime trade candidate, as he’s in the final year of his contract.
The 32-year-old Swiss native hasn’t been able to sustain his All-Star level play since being traded to Chicago, but he’s still an effective scorer who averages 16.9 PPG in his career. More importantly, Vooch is an excellent rebounder, pulling in 10.4 boards per game, good enough for eighth-best in the NBA. The Lakers may rank sixth in rebounding right now, but with Davis being forced out of action, we are likely to see them suffer on the glass.
Adding Vucevic would cost future assets, as the Lakers don’t have many current ones available, but he’d be an instant boost and could stick at center when Davis comes back, with the former Pelicans star switching back to power forward, his preferred position.
Swing a trade for Myles Turner, Buddy Hield
- Los Angeles Lakers trade: Russell Westbrook, first-round picks in 2027, 2029
- Indiana Pacers trade: Myles Turner and Buddy Hield
This trade has been rumored for months now, in some form or another. Perhaps the Davis trade is the final shoe needed to drop for the Lakers to pull the trigger. This roster needs more shooting anyway, and both Turner and Hield would certainly fit the mold.
While the Pacers have no use for Westbrook, the cap relief gained by taking on his contract could prove to be valuable this upcoming offseason. The future assets are the focus here, but even two first-round picks may not be enough to convince the Pacers to throw the towel in on their season. One benefit the trade would have for Indiana is that it would open up more playing time for other young talents, such as Rookie of the Year candidate Bennedict Mathurin and Isaiah Jackson.
For the Lakers, the boost is obvious, as they’d be adding two excellent three-point shooters who can help Los Angeles get back to the playoffs. Imagine a lineup of:
- Patrick Beverley, Buddy Hield, LeBron James, Myles Turner, Anthony Davis
Maybe the Lakers eventually find a way to bring in a different point guard if Beverley continues to slump. No matter what, that’s a pretty balanced starting lineup that has a bit of everything, from perimeter defense, to outside scoring, rim protection and size, so much size. This version of the Lakers might actually strike fear in their opponents, something their current bunch falls well short of doing.
Los Angeles Lakers complete reunion with Kyle Kuzma
- Los Angeles Lakers trade: Lonnie Walker IV, Kendrick Nunn, first-round picks in 2027, 2029
- Washington Wizards trade: Kyle Kuzma
While the Wizards were undoubtedly hoping they could get back into playoff contention with Bradley Beal healthy again, it just hasn’t happened. Washington is nine games below .500 and could once again look at selling off some of their veterans. Especially considering one of them, Kyle Kuzma, is not only playing the best basketball of his career, and is in the final year of his contract.
- Kyle Kuzma stats in 2022: 21.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.5 APG
Kuzma, 27, began his career with the Lakers, after being selected 27th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. But after a promising sophomore season, Kuzma’s production tailed off the next two seasons, leading to the Lake Show swapping him and others for Russell Westbrook. Whoops.
He’d be a perfect fit both with and without Davis healthy, as Kuzma is a versatile 3-and-D athlete who would bring even more length to the starting five. Trade rumors are already swirling, and Kuzma himself seemed to welcome such suggestions of him landing back in L.A. Crazier things have happened.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.