LeBron James has been instrumental in guiding the Los Angeles Lakers to the Western Conference’s top record with an opportunity to compete for an NBA title. The Lakers have widely been considered one of the favorites to earn the NBA championship this season behind their loaded roster. It’s a group of players that could have seen another key piece added to the mix.
Lakers’ 2019-20 season success
In the months heading into the 2019-20 season, there was much anticipation around the Lakers after almost entirely reshaping the roster headlined by adding Anthony Davis to the mix.
Los Angeles has lived up to the hype as they moved to the best record in the Western Conference and second-best overall behind the Milwaukee Bucks before the season was suspended back in early March. The Lakers were starting to hit their groove after taking down the Bucks and LA Clippers that made them look like a legitimate title contender.
LeBron James has led the way with an impressive 17th year that has put in the mix for the MVP award. He has bounced back from an injury-plagued first year in Los Angeles as he’s averaging a double-double with 25.7 points and a career-high and league-best 10.6 assists per contest. Meanwhile, Davis has honed into his own right as the leading scorer and factor on defense.
That has all pushed tremendous title expectations on the franchise that could have further been raised if they made one move earlier this season.
Lakers could have added Derrick Rose alongside LeBron James
It has been clear for much of the season that the Lakers are one of the clear-cut championship favorites.
That saw them become active in looking for other ways to improve their roster before the trade deadline. One of the moves that one Western Conference executive believes could have helped them was acquiring Derrick Rose from the Detroit Pistons, according to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report.
“The ask was too great,” the Western Conference executive said. “They totally mishandled that. It was the perfect time to move him. He was the ultimate rental at the trade deadline. You could keep him fresh for the playoffs and still have him next year on a very cap-friendly deal. He (Derrick Rose) would’ve made a first-round playoff team into a second-round team, and he would’ve put the Lakers or the Clippers over the top.”
Rose has proven to still have plenty left in the tank to play at a high level. He still has his struggles with nagging injuries but has shown to be a capable scorer and playmaker. There were reports that the Lakers were significantly interested in trading for Rose, but nothing came about.
It would have been interesting to see Rose play alongside LeBron James for the second time as the two paired together with the Cleveland Cavaliers. That tenure was cut short as his struggles with injuries caused him to step away from the game, which he returned but was traded and bought out by the Utah Jazz.
Things would be quite different this time around if he were traded to the Lakers, but his playing style didn’t precisely mesh well with James. They are two players that operate quite well with the ball in their hands, and that would push Rose into a less effective role that wouldn’t allow him to excel at the level he could.
Lakers still remain a title contender favorite
Derrick Rose’s addition would have been another intriguing element to the Lakers, but the team has many key veteran players alongside LeBron James.
Offseason additions such as Dwight Howard, Danny Green, and Avery Bradley have played crucial parts in providing depth and stability. Bradley may not be playing once the season resumes this month, but they have added JR Smith, who has a plethora of experience playing alongside James and shown he can excel off the ball.
The Lakers will likely the other 21 teams will be heading into a unique situation in Orlando, but they have the pieces in place to make a title run.