The NBA trade deadline has passed without the Los Angeles Lakers making any moves.
So what will the Lakers do to counter? They have options.
Did Clippers gain edge with Morris addition?
The Morris deal adds more toughness and 3-point shooting to the Clippers lineup as they battle with the Lakers for Western Conference supremacy.
Morris has long had a reputation as an NBA enforcer and has stepped up his offensive game to a new level this season with career highs of 19.6 points per game and a 43.9 percent success rate behind the 3-point line. His role will be reduced with the Clippers, but he should bolster an already loaded starting lineup playing alongside perennial All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, amping up pressure on the Lakers.
Lakers could have used Morris
Morris is the exact kind of player the Lakers could have used in a lineup in need of shooting around All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis — a factor that adds more value to the Clippers acquiring his services.
The Lakers didn’t remain without a move for lack of trying. Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported on Wednesday that the team had its sights on Andre Iguodala before the Miami Heat made the winning bid with the Memphis Grizzlies for the veteran forward.
But just because the deadline has passed doesn’t mean there’s not room for roster moves.
Will Lakers land Darren Collison?
Marc Stein of the New York Times reports that the Lakers remain favorites for the services of veteran point guard Darren Collison if he chooses to return to the league. They’re also expected to give free agent guard J.R. Smith a tryout to help bolster their shooting.
Collison made the announcement of his surprise retirement last offseason at 31 years old, claiming he wanted to focus on life after basketball. But in January, reports surfaced that Collison intends to return to the NBA with a goal of joining either the Clippers or the Lakers.
Collison remained an impact player for the Indiana Pacers last season, averaging 11.2 points, six assists and 3.1 rebounds per game while shooting 36.7 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from 3-point distance. A career 39.4 percent 3-point shooter, he’d provide an immediate shooting upgrade over Rajon Rondo as James’ backup at point guard.
But Collison to the Lakers isn’t a done deal. The Clippers remain linked to the point guard as well, and they reportedly plan to release Isaiah Thomas, who joined them on Thursday as part of the Morris deal — a potential signal that they intend to pursue Collison.
Where Collison lands will play a big role in the power struggle atop the West.
Could J.R. Smith help?
Smith, meanwhile, hasn’t played in the NBA since being released by the Cleveland Cavaliers 11 games into the 2018-19 season. He played five seasons with the Cavs and won an NBA championship alongside James as a shooting specialist.
Smith is as well-known for his antics as he is his game, but it’s safe to assume that the Lakers wouldn’t consider signing the 34-year-old, 15-season NBA veteran without James’ blessing.
The Lakers hold the edge in the standings right now with a 38-11 record, three games ahead of the Clippers in the West. But many believe the Clippers have the roster to beat the Lakers in a potential playoff series when Leonard’s not taking days off for load management.
After failing to upgrade at the deadline, the Lakers can’t afford to miss out on a post-deadline addition, much less allow the Clippers to swoop in and sign Collison.
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