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The Los Angeles Lakers were great on Friday night. They dominated one of the best teams in the Western Conference – the Denver Nuggets.
LeBron James scored 30 points and the Lakers received positive contributions from several players. However, their best player – Anthony Davis – only scored 10 of the Lakers’ 126 points. The reason for the poor goal performance was that he left the game in the second quarter with a foot injury. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports Davis will be out for at least a month, but there’s a significant chance it will be longer.
Davis eventually evolved into the player the Lakers felt was worth trading a bunch of starting caliber players and future draft picks to acquire. He averages 27.3 points per game at nearly 60 percent from the field. Combine that with his usual superb defense, and Davis played like a legitimate MVP contender.
The Lakers got off to a disastrous start to the 2022-23 season with a 2-8 record. Largely due to Davis’ outstanding play, they have improved a lot and currently stand at 12-16. The playoffs are within reach, but with Davis out until possibly after Valentine’s Day, the Lakers are very unlikely to be able to continue their winning streak.
Unless they make a deal.
They didn’t discharge Westbrook’s expiring contract and their first-round draft picks in 2027 and 2029, and with good reason. Earlier in the year they lost too much to pawn any more of their future, and once they started winning it made sense to hold out and wait for the best possible offer. The Lakers gave up too much for both Davis and Westbrook and didn’t have to dwell on another deal.
There is no time for a wait-and-see approach. James will be 38 at the end of this month. He can’t carry the Lakers for maybe 20 games, maybe more while waiting for Davis to return.
Westbrook has played very well in his limited role with the Lakers. He came off the bench, played less than 30 minutes a game, and played with more restraint and efficiency when he was on the ground. He’ll have to shoulder a bigger offensive load if he stays on the roster, and that hasn’t worked well since he’s sported a Lakers uniform.
The Lakers have been linked in rumors to acquire Bojan Bogdonović, Myles Turner, Buddy Hield, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vučević and even Evan Fournier and Cam Reddish. Of course, this isn’t the most impressive group of names, but when the Lakers are looking to save this season, there’s no time to be picky.
The clock is running out fast in the 2022-23 season. Their destiny looked good, but now they have to make a choice. Either act quickly and strike up a trade to try and stabilize the ship until Davis can return, or bet on this season and try to do something with all of their cap space this off-season when James getting closer to 40 years.