Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers
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The Los Angeles Lakers may have started 2-10, but they've clawed their way back to respectability with a 5-1 stretch that included wins without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. At 7-11, the Lakers are within striking distance of the top 10 in the Western Conference standings which would grant them entry into the play-in round at the end of the season. That, in itself, would hardly represent an admirable outcome, but during this streak of victories, the Lakers have come to see the potential this group has.

In fact, leaders in the Laker locker room believe that the team is "only a couple of players away from turning this group into a legitimate contender" according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin. This echoes the sentiment reported by Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes, who reported that a failure to execute a trade soon could lead key figures within the locker room to sour on the direction of the franchise. While these leaders have not been named explicitly, it seems likely that James and/or Davis are among them, as Haynes reported that James does not want to "waste" another season of his prime.

The timing of this story is hardly coincidental. The Lakers have spent months discussing a trade with the Indiana Pacers built around Myles Turner and Buddy Hield. On Monday, the Lakers will face Turner, Hield and the Pacers for the first time this season. The deal would send Russell Westbrook and two first-round picks to Indiana for Hield and Turner, but to this point, the Lakers have refused to send both picks to the Pacers while Indiana has refused to accept a single pick as compensation for its two veterans.

As the season has progressed, the Pacers have had reason to reconsider trading Turner and Hield. They are 11-8 and hold the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. McMenamin notes that the Lakers are not even sure that Pacers owner Herb Simon, who is 88, wants to endure a rebuild. This might just be leverage posturing, but the Pacers are notoriously opposed to tanking. They've missed the playoffs only eight times since 1990.

The Lakers rank 28th in the NBA in 3-point percentage. Turner and Hield would help a great deal on that front. Turner's rim protection would allow Davis to play his preferred power forward position. It's a seemingly ideal trade. The Lakers have thus far refused to make it, regardless of the apparent frustration it has caused the players already in the locker room.