While the Lakers have been active with what appears to be a clear plan at hand to become much younger than last season, the area they didn’t address was shooting. They made progress as DraftKings lists them at +1300 odds of winning the title, fourth best in the Western Conference and eighth best overall.
But that very big weakness remains and is something they need to fix if they want to fight for a title. The team believes they can shoot other avenues with their final roster spots, with a potential trade with Kyrie Irving being the prime example.
As poor as Russell Westbrook was fit as a shooter alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Kyrie is the complete opposite. For his career, Irving is a 39.3% 3-pointer and has only had two seasons under 40% from distance in the last eight seasons.
Acquiring him by swapping Westbrook would go a long way to allaying their concerns about the shooting, but it’s getting dangerously close to putting all your eggs in one basket. If they can’t close that deal, they’re left with a roster that has a really big flaw.
Fortunately, and probably predictably, the Lakers appear to have a backup plan in case the Irving trade doesn’t work out. A pair of experienced snipers – with whom the team is very familiar – could be targeted, as noted by Dave McMenamin on ESPN’s NBA Today on Friday.
If Kyrie isn’t working, they have plans – or plans they hope they can execute – to shoot in other directions on this list. Whether that’s a veteran like Buddy Hield who they almost got together with on draft day last year and you see Indiana just traded away Malcolm Brogdon and there could be more moves to come, or maybe a guy like Eric Gordon in Houston. These guys aren’t Kyrie Irving, of course, but they are players they believe they can enlist to help their team.
Both players should be familiar to Lakers fans as both have been linked to the franchise over the last year. Buddy Hield came this close to becoming a Laker last year before the team switched to Westbrook, a move they certainly regret.
Eric Gordon was then linked with the Lakers in a Westbrook trade throughout the season and particularly at the close of the trade. Then the Lakers balked at the idea of including draft picks to resolve Westbrook’s deal, but would their stance change after failing to trade Russ back away?
Both Hield and Gordon are established shooters, with the former scoring 39.8% of his career 3-pointer while the latter shot 41.2% last year. Neither would single-handedly solve the Lakers’ shooting problems on the roster. But both are among the most respected long-distance specialists in the league and would have carried more weight than anyone at the Lakers last season, or perhaps every season in recent memory.
But just because the Lakers have a plan B doesn’t mean it will work. The Lakers have an uphill battle ahead of them no matter what deal they choose to strike.
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