Lakers trade

Lakers trade

Not a few quarters in the National Basketball Association (NBA) saw fit to mark Dec. 15, 2023, on their calendar, and with reason. The date marks the unofficial start to their capacity to initiate trades involving players who signed new deals in the offseason. And because they’ve already gone through a quarter of a season’s worth of matches, they can lean on a sample size large enough for them to assess their respective rosters’ strengths and weaknesses. The wheeling and dealing is slated to intensify in the coming weeks, reaching a crescendo closer to the Feb. 8, 2024, deadline for personnel swaps.

Whether or not franchises pull the trigger on talent acquisitions depends on a number of factors, and it’s worth noting that exploration does not necessarily lead to fruition. There is always an impetus to improve, but the maintenance, if not enhancement, of esprit de corps may well be affected by the introduction of unpredictable variables. After all, individual brilliance does not automatically translate to collective achievement. That said, executives around the league would be remiss in their duties if they refrain from surveying the landscape for complementary pieces that could spell the differences between mere competitiveness and actual success.

Take the Lakers, who are said to be angling for the services of the Bulls’ Zach LaVine. That they are looking into the possibility of adding the two-time All-Star is no surprise in and of itself. Considering their storied past, a deep postseason campaign is their minimum standard for what constitutes a fruitful outcome — and, even then, they find themselves subject to criticism. Which is why they seem to perpetually have the itch to tinker with their lineup. As their own experience informs them, however, they do not always better their standing as a result.

Needless to say, relationships play a big part in these types of discussions. Even as rosy projections can be iffy at best and premised on nebulous assumptions, established ties tend to muddle objective evaluations. Going back to the Lakers’ case, it bears pointing out that the Klutch Sports Group — which counts LaVine, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis as clients — has had extensive dealings with them. Then again, asset swaps require giving as much as taking. And if the grapevine is to be believed, the Bulls want local favorite Austin Reaves to be part of the cost of doing business.

Because the Lakers haven’t spent much time with a complete roster, and because the In-Season Tournament they just won underscores the gravity of their roster as currently constructed, there is cause for them to do nothing. The flipside, of course, is that they still don’t seem to have the tools they need to claim the hardware. And, that, in the final analysis, is what drives their evident impatience.


Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.