The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers have vastly underperformed their preseason expectations during the first four months of the season, but neither team made a move to add to their roster at the NBA trade deadline on Thursday.
The Lakers are 27-25 and in ninth place in the Western Conference, while the Warriors sit two spots back in 11th at 23-25.
After making the 2023 Western Conference finals and winning this season’s In-Season Tournament, the Lakers seemed primed for another deep postseason run. But a middling January poked a hole in those plans and seemed to set up Los Angeles as an active deadline buyer.
However, after weeks of talks with the Atlanta Hawks surrounding a trade for All-Star Dejounte Murray, no deal was completed. Per The Athletic’s Jovan Buha, the Lakers had previously offered D’Angelo Russell, Jalen Hood-Schifino, their 2029 first-round pick and additional draft compensation for Murray.
But without a deal, Los Angeles will take those assets, along with the coveted Austin Reaves, into the final months of the season, hoping they can conjure more playoff magic built around 39-year-old LeBron James.
Despite playing in his 21st season, James is averaging 24.9 points, 7.6 assists and 7.3 rebounds in 34.9 minutes per game. On Jan. 31, James tweeted an hourglass emoji amid the team’s trade deadline speculation. James declined to explain what he meant by the message.
James’ future with the Lakers also has been brought into question in recent weeks, as the four-time MVP answered, “No,” when asked whether he had decided to pick up his player option for next season that’s worth $51.4 million. The deadline to exercise that option is June 29.
LeBron James was asked twice about the trade deadline tonight.
Here are his two answers:
You guys went 4-2 on this trip. Do you feel like as a team you’ve proven or shown why you guys should continue to invest in this group?
James: “This is who we have, so there’s nothing else…
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) February 6, 2024
The Warriors, two years removed from winning their fourth NBA title in the past decade, entered Thursday’s deadline with a roster both constructed to win now — built around the still-dominant Steph Curry — and loaded with tradeable pieces.
Assets such as Jonathan Kuminga, who has enjoyed an uptick in production in recent weeks, and Andrew Wiggins — who has had a career-worst season after playing a key role in the team’s 2022 championship run — will remain with Golden State as the Warriors look to claw back into playoff contention.
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There was also speculation the Warriors could have dealt Chris Paul, who at 39 years old remains a valuable player, up-and-comer Moses Moody or even Klay Thompson, a franchise icon who has struggled to regain his form this season.
Thompson is making $43.2 million in the final year of his contract. Paul also has an expiring deal, paying him $30 million. Either could have been used, along with draft pick compensation, to reload Curry’s supporting cast for another run at a title.
Golden State did make one deal, sending guard Cory Joseph to the Indiana Pacers. But the Warriors didn’t receive any players in return, only cash and a second-round pick, according to league sources.
Instead, the Warriors will hope their veteran core can return to their All-Star levels of production from yesteryear, while their young pieces elevate their play and breathe life into Golden State’s gasping dynasty.
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(Photo: Noah Graham / NBAE via Getty Images)