The Los Angeles Lakers stayed put at the trade deadline on Thursday, as they weren’t willing to part with a significant enough package to pry Kyle Lowry away from the Toronto Raptors. They are expected to be the frontrunners for Andre Drummond once he completes a buyout with the Cavaliers, but for a team on the slide due to injuries to their top two stars, they won’t see a ton of reinforcements arriving in the immediate.
For a team with title aspirations once their stars return, not panicking at the deadline is a perfectly reasonable approach, as they know a short-term skid shouldn’t be a longterm concern. That said, in a very crowded Western Conference, they’ll need to pick up a few wins without LeBron and AD if they’re to ensure they are clear of the play-in tournament, because they are still a ways away from seeing both stars together again. According to Stadium’s Shams Charania, Davis is still a week or two away from his return and James even further after suffering a high ankle sprain. The team had said they were expecting a possible slow recovery, and Charania reports his timetable is 4-6 weeks from the injury suffered this past Saturday.
That means the Lakers are 3-5 weeks out from having their full squad back together, and in the meantime they’re going to have to figure out a way to produce something offensively, because they have, unsurprisingly, been dreadful on that end since James has been out. At present, the Lakers are just four games ahead of Dallas in seventh, which means it’s possible that when James returns he will be tasked with clawing the Lakers into a mid-seed and out of the play-in. No matter what, if James and Davis are healthy, the Lakers will remain among the title favorites no matter their seeding, but the path to the title might be much more difficult if they have to go through three top 4 seeds to reach the Finals.