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The Los Angeles Lakers must figure out how to navigate their offense without LeBron James. They rank inside the 85th percentile of points scored per 100 possessions with him on the court, but that standing plummets to the 59th percentile when he’s off the floor. It falls even lower, to the 43rd percentile, with Anthony Davis included in those lineups.
Hovering around average offensive production without James is hardly the end of the world. It could even be considered borderline encouraging. But the defense has taken the largest hit during his breathers, most notably when Rajon Rondo is running the show. Los Angeles ranks in the 82nd percentile of offensive efficiency when Rondo goes it alone but is a net negative overall because it’s coughing up 115.3 points per 100 possessions (11th percentile).
Adding another playmaker won’t solve that problem on its own unless he’s a top-flight defender. But the Lakers are almost barren of reliable secondary ball-handlers, and upgrading the Rondo minutes at either end of the floor would be a win.
Derrick Rose has caught their eye, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes—and not just because they’re all about 2011 MVP candidates.
The 31-year-old has been a genuine asset this season. He’s averaging 18.4 points and 5.8 assists in only 26.1 minutes per game, and the Detroit Pistons offense improves by a team-high 9.8 points per 100 possessions with him on the court, a swing so large that it ranks in the 95th percentile.
Rose doesn’t get to the rim nearly as often as he did in his prime, but he’s posting a career-high clip there when does. His three-point touch remains below average, but he’s downing 47 percent of his mid-range looks, tying his personal-best mark.
Subbing out Rondo for him would put far more pressure on opposing defenses. Rose is averaging 24.5 drives per 36 minutes compared to the former’s 11.8. That extra probing opens scoring opportunities for both Rose and those around him. Luka Doncic, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook are the only players who have tossed more corner three-point assists, per PBP Stats.
Asking price is bound to be an issue. Rose is under contract for a tidy $7.7 million next year, which gives the Pistons leverage to demand more than if he were a midseason rental. The Lakers cannot flip a first-round pick, and including Kyle Kuzma in any deal that doesn’t net another combo forward would be dicey at best.
This same thinking applies to Avery Bradley and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the latter of whom has an implicit no-trade clause. The Lakers could offer multiple second-rounders while granting the Pistons more wiggle room under the tax with a two-player package of Quinn Cook and Troy Daniels, but the first of those draft selections wouldn’t convey until 2023.
If they want Rose, they might have to decide whether he’s worth surrendering Talen Horton-Tucker.
B.S. Meter: The Lakers’ interest in Rose is plausible. Their path to getting him? Not so much.