OKLAHOMA CITY – Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson has fielded phone calls from numerous executives in his new job. While none of those conversations yielded a blockbuster move, they still resulted in roster changes.
The Lakers acquired 22-year-old guard Tyler Ennis from the Houston Rockets for veteran guard Marcelo Huertas, according to The Vertical.
It remains to be seen what role Ennis might provide as a backup point guard after averaging 3.5 points on 40.8 percent shooting with three NBA teams, including Phoenix (2014-15), Milwaukee (2014-16) and Houston (2016-17). But he provides a more youthful presence than Huertas, 33, who averaged 2.7 points on a 36.8 percent clip in 10.3 minutes through 23 appearances this season. The Vertical reported the Rockets plan to waive Huertas.
The Lakers made no other moves Thursday as the trade deadline passed at noon PT.
Although the Lakers and Indiana Pacers had preliminary talks about acquiring small forward Paul George, sources familiar with the situation deemed it unlikely the Lakers would trade for George for two reasons. With Johnson recently deeming the team's young core "untouchable," the Lakers did not want to expend the majority of their assets to land a star player without an infrastructure around him. George, who grew up in Palmdale and starred at Knight High, has interest in joining the Lakers once he becomes a free agent after the 2017-18 season. Then, the Lakers could sign him while maintaining a young core of players that would presumably grow with an additional year of experience.
The Lakers also considered trading veteran shooting guard Nick Young. Although he has averaged 13.8 points on 44.1 percent shooting under first-year coach Luke Walton, Young has been considered expendable for a few years. The Lakers would like to acquire another draft pick, and Young’s departure also would have opened up playing time for the rest of the Lakers' young roster, including guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Brandon Ingram.
The Lakers (19-39) flew to Oklahoma City on Thursday morning and planned an afternoon practice in advance of Friday’s game against the Thunder (32-25) at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Although this did not preclude the Lakers from making a deal before the trade deadline, Johnson traveled with the team to Oklahoma City. He wanted to make the trip so he could watch practice, morning shootaround and Friday's game in person, while also working with the team behind the scenes.
The Lakers had traded veteran guard Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets on Tuesday for veteran small forward Corey Brewer and a 2017 first-round pick. Though Williams, 30, led the Lakers with a career-high 18.6 points on 44.4 percent shooting, the Lakers valued collecting long-term assets and paving the way for additional playing time to their young players over Williams' production. Williams, in his 11th NBA season, has two years remaining on his contract.
The Lakers plan to hire former player agent Rob Pelinka as their general manager to replace Mitch Kupchak, though that deal has not been finalized. In the interim, Johnson and Lakers assistant general manager Glenn Carraro fielded calls leading into the trade deadline.
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