5 Lakers on Thin Ice Heading Into the NBA Draft

The Los Angeles Lakers have a busy offseason on the horizon after last season's shortcomings. As a result, here are five players who are on thin ice ahead of the 2024 NBA Draft.
Rui Hachimura is one of five Lakers who are on thin ice before the NBA Draft.
Rui Hachimura is one of five Lakers who are on thin ice before the NBA Draft. / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Jarred Vanderbilt, SF/PF

After acquiring him from the Minnesota Timberwolves ahead of the 2023 trade deadline, the Lakers extended Jarred Vanderbilt on a four-year, $48 million contract in September. The majority of the fanbase didn't have an issue with the deal given that the Houston, TX native already established himself as a reliable defender before even turning 25 years old.

Even if injuries limited him to 29 games, Vanderbilt lived up to the hype last season and was one of the Lakers' better bench players more often than not. He did a bit of everything, averaging 5.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.2 steals while playing 20 minutes per game. Additionally, he added 0.8 defensive win shares while 2.9% of the opposition's possessions ended with a steal by him.

Unfortunately, Vanderbilt last played in February and couldn't become healthy enough in time for the postseason. So, why is he on thin ice?

Although he's still one of the franchise's top defenders, Vanderbilt's contract makes him a potential trade candidate. If the Lakers want to make a big splash in the trade market, the ex-Kentucky product's $10.7 million salary makes him one of their best trade pieces. Several teams would love to add a versatile 25-year-old forward who can defend players of various sizes and skills. After all, you can't pull off a blockbuster without sending something valuable the other way.

While many Lakers fans wouldn't complain if Vanderbilt came back, we have to think realistically here. If GM Pelinka can make the team better by moving on from the former second-round pick, he must pull the trigger.