NBA Buyout Market: Goran Dragic Needs to Be the Lakers’ Top Priority to Help Save the Season

In the weeks leading up to the NBA trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers knew they sat in a precarious position. The front office became aware that a highly steep uphill challenge lay ahead in moving off nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook.

Despite general manager Rob Pelinka’s efforts to the disappointing offseason addition, the Lakers still have Westbrook aboard. Beyond that, Pelinka didn’t make any other moves to improve the roster to secure a realistic NBA title push.

The lack of movement has quickly shifted the Lakers’ attention to the buyout market. Goran Dragic steps into the picture as he’s expected to reach a contract buyout after a trade to the San Antonio Spurs. Los Angeles may not have the most appealing situation, but an all-out effort is needed to land the former All-Star guard.

Lakers fail to make a trade deadline move

The hype and excitement around the Lakers from last offseason feels like a distant memory, but more than anything else, wishful thinking.

Despite LeBron James proving to be an ageless wonder, Los Angeles is falling apart at the seams. The Lakers have dropped seven out of their last 10 games, sitting at a 26-31 mark in the ninth spot in the Western Conference standings.

James may be amid one of the best offensive stretches of his career, notching at least 25 points in 22 straight games, but Los Angeles holds a 9-13 record over that span.

The trade deadline inactivity combined with Pelinka’s bald-faced lie about being in lockstep communication with James and Anthony Davis paints a more discouraging outlook. However, the franchise has an opportunity to add a pivotal piece to the puzzle through the buyout market.

Lakers need to land Goran Dragic to help playoff push

The Lakers certainly put forth an encouraging performance against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.

However, they need a jolt to push them forward after floundering into the back end of the playoff picture. Goran Dragic’s imminent contract buyout unsurprisingly leads Los Angeles into the picture.

Dragic has only played five games this season, but he’s remained in shape while the Raptors worked out a trade. The Lakers possess a tough battle in making a stronger case than other rumored interested teams in the Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, and Los Angeles Clippers.

The Lakers are a mess, but Dragic can immediately step into a prominent backcourt role, given his resume a proven backcourt asset. The 35-year-old is a highly dependable scorer and shooter, hitting a career 36.4% from three-point range. He’s more comfortable starting or coming off the bench while showcasing reliable play in the playoffs, averaging 19.1 points during the Miami Heat’s 2020 run to the NBA Finals.

Dragic’s production will ease the offensive workload off Westbrook’s shoulders while providing another bonafide ball-handler. He also provides head coach Frank Vogel a viable option for late-game lineup combinations.

The Lakers need Dragic’s presence more than many other teams listed as potential landing spots. He won’t shift the tide entirely, but if Los Angeles wants to make a serious deep playoff run, adding him will aid those efforts drastically.

Tristian Thompson and Dennis Schroder may emerge as buyout market options

Although Goran Dragic sits atop the desired buyout market list, other feasible options will likely be available.

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested after last week’s trade deadline, the Lakers will be actively looking to bring bought-out talent aboard. LeBron James could reunite with former longtime Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Tristan Thompson after his recent trade to the Indiana Pacers.

Recent reports suggest the Pacers are mulling whether to buy Thompson or play him. He is in the final year of his contract making $9.7 million. Meanwhile, Dennis Schroder sits in a similar situation after the trade to the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets currently don’t have any dialogue inching toward a contract buyout. However, if it reaches that point, the Lakers will be in the picture. Los Angeles attempted to acquire Schroder before Thursday’s deadline, but no serious trade chatter formalized.

Other names such as Gary Harris, DJ Augustin, and DeAndre’ Bembry will be names to watch as the Lakers attempt to add a late-season boost.

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