Los Angeles Lakers: 3 ways to improve after the NBA trade deadline

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Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

With the NBA’s trade deadline in the rearview mirror, the Los Angeles Lakers turn their focus to winning a championship in 2020.

Don’t mistake the Los Angeles Lakers‘ ineffectiveness ahead of last week’s NBA trade deadline for inactivity.

While the Lakers did not execute a trade, by all accounts they were aggressive in their efforts to make moves to improve the roster. They just didn’t finalize any deals in time.

Andre Iguodala of the Memphis Grizzlies, Derrick Rose of the Detroit Pistons, and Marcus Morris Sr. of the New York Knicks were each rumored to be on the Lakers’ radar. By the time they deadline passed, Iguodala had been sent to the Miami Heat, Morris landed with the LA Clippers, and Rose remained in Detroit.

Another name tied to the Lakers around the deadline was veteran point guard Darren Collison, who retired prior to this season but was considering a comeback. Collison met with the Lakers, but over the weekend he reportedly decided to stay retired.

That the Lakers kept their roster intact was good news for Kyle Kuzma.

The third-year forward has been mentioned in trade rumors for several weeks. He’s been performing below expectations for the Lakers, averaging a career-worst 12.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game through Sunday, shooting a career-low 43.4 percent from the field, and playing a career-low 25.0 minutes per game, mostly coming off the bench.

Kuzma has been the Lakers’ No. 3 scorer after Anthony Davis and LeBron James, and he is the only player on the team other than those two averaging double figures in points. But given the sense of urgency around a team in win-now mode, there didn’t seem to be time to let Kuzma work through any prolonged slump.

Related Story: Trade deadline reset: Who did what?

Kuzma did play well in the three games prior to the deadline, averaging 15.7 points and 9.7 rebounds and earning a direct shout-out of praise from LeBron to the media.

Getting him on track will go a long way toward making the Lakers a stronger championship contender.

Despite having the best record in the Western Conference (39-12 through Sunday’s schedule), the Lakers do have holes and weaknesses that need to be addressed before the playoffs begin.

The team could still sign a recently-available body like Dion Waiters, Jamal Crawford or Jeff Green. But it’s looking more like Los Angeles will proceed with the roster they have at the moment.

In that case, what improvements do the Lakers need to make after a fruitless trade deadline?

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