Lakers Notes: Draft Picks, LeBron, Walker, Davis, Brown, Schröder

Speaking to Chris Mannix of SI.com on The Crossover NBA ShowSI. com’s Howard Beck observes that the Lakers‘ front office vowed after LeBron James signed an offseason extension to upgrade its 2022/23 roster, but now seems less inclined to trade the team’s 2027 and 2029 first-round picks for win-now pieces.

“I’ve heard rumblings, and these are only rumblings, I don’t want people to go too far with this or go crazy with the aggregation,” Beck said. “But a couple people around the league have told me in recent weeks that they believe that the front office has essentially been told not to trade the picks. That they’re watching those.

“If that’s the case, that speaks to a couple things. One, you’re feeling pretty insecure about your future, post-LeBron. You think those picks are going to be so valuable in 2027 and 2029 that giving them up would be catastrophic for you. You’re also showing a lack of faith in your ability to trade those picks and find another way to rebuild in whatever the post-LeBron years are.

“You’re also indicating — again, if it’s true that they are just completely unwilling to put those picks on the table, then that means you’re also, by definition, willing to flush this season, because those are your best tools… for improving in the immediate term.”

Reports in recent months have indicated that the Lakers are only interested in moving both of those future first-round picks if there’s a deal that significantly improves their title chances. Anthony Davis‘ foot injury also reportedly lowered the chances that the club will trade one or both picks in a major trade, though if LA can stay in the play-in mix in the coming weeks and Davis returns later this month, perhaps the club will reconsider that stance at the February 9 trade deadline.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Head coach Darvin Ham said on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect either James (non-COVID illness) or Lonnie Walker (left knee soreness) to be out much longer, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. Ham stated that LeBron is dealing with a “common cold,” while Walker has “a little bit of tendonitis.”
  • Ham also shared a minor update on Davis’ recovery, indicating that everything is “going right according to plan,” Goon adds. The Lakers have been conducting continuous MRIs on Davis’ injured foot and he hasn’t experienced any setbacks in his recovery process.
  • Lakers wing Troy Brown left Wednesday’s game due to a left quad strain and didn’t return, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The club has yet to issue an update on Brown’s status going forward, so it’s unclear whether he’ll miss additional time.
  • With the Lakers already shorthanded due to injuries, Dennis Schröder was determined to stay in Wednesday’s game after rolling his right ankle in the fourth quarter, McMenamin writes for ESPN.com. Schröder not only finished the game — he scored a season-high 32 points and helped lead the Lakers to an unlikely win over Miami. “I just try to be there for my teammates,” he said. “I felt pretty good after (turning the ankle). Of course, it was sore, and it hurt. But I know my limits.”
  • Schröder was one of several Lakers on minimum-salary contracts to play a major role in the victory, alongside Thomas Bryant (21 points, nine rebounds), Austin Reaves (11 points), and Wenyen Gabriel (10 points). “I just think different guys are settling into their roles, getting more comfortable with more reps, more minutes,” Ham said, for McMenamin. “When we do get our big dogs back, whether it’s Bron, AD, both of them back — Lonnie, as well — it just makes us that much stronger, that much deeper, because now guys have confidence. They have the ultimate confidence because they’ve gotten the reps.”

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