The Los Angeles Lakers have attempted to cool the flames, but ignoring the ongoing struggles has become increasingly difficult. The Lakers look nothing like a legitimate title contender, while Russell Westbrook isn’t showing to be the missing piece. Outside of LeBron James’ brilliance in his 19th campaign, the Lakers don’t possess much else that draws encouragement. It’s led the franchise to explore the market for roster improvements, potentially leading them to pursue former All-Star Paul Millsap.
Lakers’ ongoing struggles are putting playoff aspirations in jeopardy
Much can be said about the Lakers’ shortcomings that have put them in a tough spot.
All is not lost, but Los Angeles hasn’t shown any signs that they can become a serious NBA title threat. Instead, they have limped through the 2021-22 campaign dealing with injuries while Westbrook is experiencing ongoing struggles.
The Lakers sit in the ninth spot in the Western Conference standings with a 25-27 record. These issues have led them to explore the market to improve the roster, which may include a concerted push to add a former All-Star.
The Lakers are crossing their fingers for 4-time All-Star Paul Millsap to fall into their lap
In the weeks leading up to the Feb. 10 trade deadline, the Lakers have scoped the market to acquire a much-needed spark to push them toward the playoffs.
However, the front office has received little interest in the players the franchise is willing to move. Los Angeles will explore the alternative avenue of the buyout market as disgruntled big man Paul Millsap is potentially heading toward a buyout with the Brooklyn Nets.
Despite the Nets’ injury issues, the 36-year-old has been sparsely used, averaging 3.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.0 assists in 11.3 minutes per contest in 24 games, all played off the bench. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the Lakers will make a push to land Millsap if he’s bought out despite his preferred landing spot being the Chicago Bulls.
“And while it’s believed Paul Millsap would prefer to land in Chicago, having a connection to Bulls lead executive Arturas Karnisovas from their shared Denver days, Los Angeles has been mentioned as a suitor for Millsap should he reach the buyout market,” Fischer wrote.
Los Angeles holds a steep uphill battle to compete against the Bulls due to the personal connection and the team’s success sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings. Meanwhile, the Lakers are nearly out of the playoff picture and are playing nothing like a serious NBA title contender.
Nonetheless, Millsap is a significant need as he provides scoring, defensive presence, and rebounding. Los Angeles ranks 16th in rebounding (44.7), 27th in opponent scoring (112.2 points), and 18th in 3-point shooting (34.9%).
Millsap could step into a considerable role potentially take a starting spot next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The deck is stacked against the Lakers, but the franchise will make a strong play to land much-needed frontcourt help.
Lakers must face the tough reality ahead
The Lakers face the stark reality that there may not be more help outside of LeBron James coming back from his swollen left knee.
Anthony Davis returning provides a significant boost, but Los Angeles will have to stick with their current roster. No team wants to take on Russell Westbrook and his massive remaining contract. Meanwhile, the other players they are willing to move, such as Kent Bazemore, DeAndre Jordan, and even Talen Horton-Tucker, are not drawing any significant interest.
Los Angeles might add a piece through the buyout market, but the team will have to do best with what they have. They have 30 regular-season games left to figure it out if there is any hope of vying for an NBA title, let alone the playoffs.