Report: Leaders in Lakers' locker room think team 'only a couple of players away' from contending




 

There's a sense of optimism around the Lakers: They have won 5-of-6 and are expected to have both Anthony Davis and LeBron James healthy Monday night, plus Russell Westbrook has found a role and comfort level off the bench and other players are settling into roles. They may be 7-11, but it's early enough there is a sense this could be turned around.

That is echoed by "locker room leaders" who think the team is just a couple of players away from being a contender in the West (where no team has pulled away), reports Dave McMenamin at ESPN.

Let's unpack all of this.

• "Leaders in the Lakers' locker room" means LeBron and Davis (both repped by Rich Paul). Let's not pretend it's anything else.

• If the Lakers don't make a move to significantly upgrade the roster, how unhappy will those leaders become? How disruptive would that be?

• It is no coincidence that McMenamin's report comes the day the Lakers face the Pacers, a team they went deep into conversations with this summer on a Myles Turner/Buddy Hield trade, but Los Angeles GM Rob Pelinka ultimately would not put both available Lakers' first-round picks (2027 and 2029) in the deal and it fell apart. Turner said the Lakers should "take a hard look" at trading for him. The thing is, the Pacers are now 11-8, not tanking for Victor Wembanyama but instead thinking playoffs, so are they going to trade their elite rim protector and sharpshooter away? Not likely. At least not without an overwhelming offer, and the Lakers' two picks may not get there anymore.

• While Westbrook has found a comfort level coming off the bench (and not sharing the court as much with LeBron), he is still a $47.1 million contract that no team is trading for without sweeteners. To use NBA parlance, he is still a negative value contract, even if it feels less negative than a month ago.

• Are the Lakers really a couple of players away from contending? While they have won 5-of-6, three of those five wins came against the tanking Spurs, the others were against the so-injured-they-might-as-well-be-tanking Pistons, and the Nets before Kyrie Irving returned. The Lakers did what they needed to do and thrived in a soft part of the schedule, but that schedule is about to turn and give the Lakers a reality check on where they really stand. After the Pacers, it's the Trail Blazers (likely still without Damian Lillard), then an East Coast road trip that includes the Bucks, Cavaliers, Raptors and 76ers. The next couple of weeks will be a better marker for where the Lakers stand, and if they can build off of the past couple of weeks.

Check out more on the Lakers

LeBron becomes oldest player with 39 points, 11 boards, seven 3-pointers... Watch Spurs Collins bloody Russell Westbrook with a foul, get ejected Kevin Durant says 'it's cool to see' LeBron break all-time...

Report: Leaders in Lakers' locker room think team 'only a couple of players away' from contending originally appeared on NBCSports.com

COMMENTS

More Related News

Report: Celtics eyeing Kelly Olynyk as possible trade target
Report: Celtics eyeing Kelly Olynyk as possible trade target

A recent report suggests the Boston Celtics may be interested in a deal to bring Kelly Olynyk back to Boston.

Devin Booker reportedly could return to Suns next week
Devin Booker reportedly could return to Suns next week

The Suns need a Booker return to bounce back up the standings and be a threat again.

Bulls
Bulls' Alex Caruso on trade rumors: 'I fully expect to be here'

Alex Caruso has landed in rumors in advance of the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline, but the defensive ace isn't sweating them and fully expects to remain with the Bulls.

PBT Podcast: LeBron chases history, WNBA superteam and trade talk
PBT Podcast: LeBron chases history, WNBA superteam and trade talk

Trade season feels on hold while we wait on the Raptors, but there is plenty else going on.

Three things to Know: Breanna Stewart is headed to New York, WNBA must seize moment
Three things to Know: Breanna Stewart is headed to New York, WNBA must seize moment

A superteam in New York can be a breakthrough moment for the WNBA.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Basketball