The Los Angeles Lakers fell to 26-29 on Tuesday with an embarrassing blowout loss at home to the Milwaukee Bucks. The outcome hardly surprised anyone, including LeBron James, who not only said plainly that the Lakers weren't "on their level," but added that he "could have told you that before the game." Those frustrations have been evident on the floor for weeks. Even when the Lakers have had James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook on the floor together, they've still only managed to build a 10-8 record. Westbrook has been benched for crunch time in three separate games now, and he is openly questioning Frank Vogel's locker room.
In other words, it's DEFCON 1 in Los Angeles right now, and the timing is rather convenient. The NBA trade deadline is only a day away, and according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin, the Lakers want to use it to right this ship. In fact, they view it as a necessity. According to McMenamin, standing pat at the deadline "is not seen as a viable option by players on the team." Who exactly those players are is not clear, but McMenamin specifically notes in his story that James himself works with vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka to help construct the Laker roster.
CBS Sports HQ Newsletter
Your Ultimate Guide to Every Day in Sports
We bring sports news that matters to your inbox, to help you stay informed and get a winning edge.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
The problem the Lakers will continue to run into is their limited pool of tradable assets. Only two players on their roster are making between the minimum and maximum salaries: Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn. The former has struggled all season. The latter hasn't played. The Lakers can offer only a single first-round pick in trades, their 2027 selection. Thus far, they've failed to entice any sellers with that package.
Looming over all of this has been Westbrook's presence. The former MVP has played himself out of a closing role in recent weeks, and if he keeps it up, he'll be out of a starting job as well. The Lakers would surely love to trade him, but no team in its right mind would be interested in paying him the $47 million he is owed next season on a player option. So long as he is playing a major role on this team and struggling to the degree that he has, it seems unlikely that any single, feasible addition could fix everything wrong with the roster.
But teams that employ James tend to try. The Lakers will likely be as aggressive as their limitations allow them to be until Thursday. Even the locker room seems to realize how desperately this roster needs to be improved upon.