LA Lakers news: What Mike Muscala and the buyout market means for the Lakers and their playoff chances
At the trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers did not get Anthony Davis as many expected and/or hoped for, but they managed to ship talented but oft-travelled and oft-troubled forward Michael Beasley, who had a dispute with coach Luke Walton following a loss to the Golden State Warriors.
He was traded to the Clippers for Forward/Center Mike Muscala (newly acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers in the blockbuster Tobias Harris trade). But in the deal, they sacrificed 21-year-old center Ivica Zubac, who was posting career-highs in several categories and earning rave reviews from Walton and the players, as well as from analysts. Zubac was a fan favorite, and his departure was surprising to him and many others. It was widely criticized by Laker fans. The trade also created an open roster spot for the Lakers.
Mike Muscala averages 7.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, shoots 34.2% from the three-point line and 81.8% from the free throw line. At 6-11 and 240 pounds, he can play both Power-Forward and Center, and figures to be a prominent member of the Center rotation, along with JaVale McGee, Tyson Chandler and rookie Mo Wagner. He can score around the rim and grab some rebounds, but his primary role is to stretch the floor, particularly when LeBron James gets doubled. Ironically, he had a solid game a few weeks ago vs the Lakers as a member of the 76ers, with 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block, hitting 3-6 from 3-point range.
Now that a roster spot is open, the Lakers figure to be in the lead in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes. The Lakers have been linked to Anthony for months ever since the Houston Rockets mutually banished him and sent him to the Chicago Bulls (who then released him). Melo is close friends with LeBron James, and James has commented in the past on what it would mean to have him on the Lakers.
The Lakers could use an offensive weapon like Melo (even at 34), because there is no clear #2 option behind James, despite the presence of young talents like Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram.
The Lakers also have interest in 6-10 power forward Markieff Morris, waived by the New Orleans Pelicans, formerly with the Washington Wizards. Morris can play at both the 4 and 5 positions and is five years younger than Melo. He has been cleared to play according to his agent, after recovering from a neck injury. He may actually be a better fit at this point than Anthony, because of his defensive and offensive versatility, which is a must in the Western Conference against the versatile forwards (i.e. Kevin Durant and Paul George). He also happens to be represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.
The Lakers are currently in a funk and their chances of making the playoffs have become increasingly difficult. After getting blitzed in an ABC-televised game on Sunday 143-120 to the new and improved Philadelphia 76ers, the Lakers had a demoralizing loss on Tuesday to the lowly Atlanta Hawks.
They now stand 2.5 games behind the Clippers and Kings for the 8th playoff spot in the Western Conference. With injuries, tampering allegations, trades, trade rumours, uncertainty about the coach, and the sudden re-emergence of Lavar Ball in the media, the Lakers season is rapidly turning into a circus. Perhaps the All-Star break will get them back on track, but what is certain is that something needs to change fast, or else this will be a lottery season for the 6th straight year.