The NBA trade deadline has once again shaken up the league. For the Los Angeles Lakers it reflects their commitment to competing, with or without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The team's first move was trading Kendrick Nunn and multiple second-round picks for Rui Hachimura, a shot creator who is a great team player and fits perfectly into the Lakers' defense.
The second trade took many by surprise, as the franchise found a way to acquire D'Angelo Russell after struggling to make it work with Russell Westbrook for a year and a half. The move makes sense, as it makes the team younger and addresses the holes that need filling. Russell has experience with the pressures of LA and is the type of player who can bring the team together on the floor and in the locker room. The trade involved three teams, with the Utah Jazz giving up Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt, while the Lakers received Beasley and Vanderbilt, who played a significant role in the play-in game that got the Lakers into the first round of the playoffs.
The Lakers also acquired a second-round pick and Davon Reed from the Denver Nuggets, allowing them to move on from Thomas Bryant. In addition, Patrick Beverly left the team, and Mo Bamba joined as a replacement for AD.
The current standings and remaining games limit the chances of play-in possibilities, but there is an opportunity for Darvin Ham to show what he can do with the team schematically. The players are auditioning for a chance to stick around for next year, with most of them on a cheap or movable contract. The Lakers are playing aggressive basketball and learning each other's tendencies in real-time. Communication is crucial on both sides of the ball, and the Lakers are showing a change in tone in the locker room.
While the Lakers looked more aggressive in their first game, they didn't click offensively in their following game against Portland. The Lakers need to take it game by game and focus on LeBron's health. With under 30 games left in the season, the Lakers are not far behind in terms of wins and losses, and the west is a mess with team records. Fans should not build up too much pressure and instead remain realistic. The playoffs are not something that can be achieved in just 24 games.
Contributor: Tyrell Winston (@wstsdty)
Editor: Josh Bhagratie (@jshyb_)