The Los Angeles Lakers made the decision to stand pat at the NBA trade deadline despite significant rumors attaching them to several players around the league.
Part of the calculus was changed when D’Angelo Russell — the team’s most rumored trade chip — began playing some of the best basketball of his career after being re-inserted into the starting lineup on Jan. 13.
However, Russell’s improved play was not the only factor in the Lakers’ decision making. There was also the fact that L.A. had only one first-round pick to deal at the deadline, but could have up to three available first-rounders if they wait until the offseason to make a move. This opens the door for L.A. to land a true third star to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
But reportedly, the Lakers also felt they were being asked to pay more than other teams were for players at the deadline, going back to a long-running theme of a Lakers Tax, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic:
In conversations with rival teams, the Lakers, according to team sources, sensed something of a “Lakers tax,” with Los Angeles believing it was asked to pay more for role players in potential deals than other suitors. The Lakers were surprised by some of the final prices quoted for certain players. Several of the Lakers’ top targets — Murray, Toronto’s Bruce Brown Jr., Brooklyn’s Dorian Finney-Smith, Washington’s Tyus Jones and Chicago’s duo of Alex Caruso and Andre Drummond — didn’t move at the deadline, a sign to Los Angeles that demands were out of control.
The Lakers have long felt that asking prices for them are higher than other teams. It’s unclear just how true that is, as other teams would never confirm it, but it has been a theme at several trade deadlines and offseasons in recent history.
Perhaps that’s part of why the Lakers want three first-round picks to be able to trade this offseason, putting them in the conversation for some of the available stars without having to overpay.
Lakers potentially targeting Trae Young and Donovan Mitchell in offseason
The only trade deadline acquisition for the Lakers comes on the buyout market, as they are reportedly planning to sign veteran guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
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