Lakers Trade Target: Daniel Gafford

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As we look ahead at the February 8th trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers could desperately use a spark to improve their record.

They are currently tied for ninth in the West with a record of 24-23 and have bounced in and out of the play-in mix throughout the year.

While the Lakers have shown flashes of brilliance this season, they have struggled to put a consistent product on the court. Questionable lineups and rotation decisions from head coach Darvin Ham have been a big factor, but it ultimately boils down to weaknesses on the roster.

One area that the Lakers should look to upgrade is their big man rotation. While Anthony Davis is one of the best centers in the NBA, the options behind him have been less than ideal for the Lakers.

Christian Wood is more of an offensive-minded power forward than a true center, and Jaxson Hayes has struggled to make much of an impact when he is on the court.

The Lakers could greatly benefit from adding a true difference-maker at center, as they are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. They are in the bottom 10 in the NBA in rebounds per game (42.2) and tied for last in offensive rebounds (8.3).

Furthermore, adding another true center would take some pressure off Anthony Davis. This would give him the flexibility to play power forward in some lineups and not be the primary interior defender.

A perfect trade candidate for the Lakers is Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford.

The 25-year-old starting center has become a hot trade target around the league, as the Knicks, Mavericks, and Rockets have recently expressed trade interest in Gafford.

Gafford is having a solid season for the Wizards, averaging 11/8/2 shooting 70% from the field. He is posting a career-high in points and rebounds per game. Gafford is also a top-tier rim defender, as he is eighth in the league in blocks per game with 2.1 and averages 9.1 contested shots per game.

While Gafford’s 7.7 rpg isn’t eye-opening, a large part of that has to do with the system he’s in. The Wizards play an extremely aggressive form of basketball, often leaving him in a poor position on offense and defense.

The Lakers would be a much better fit for Gafford, where their strong defensive wings will lead to him being less overtasked in his role.

The main question with Gafford is if the Wizards would be willing to trade him. Given their 8-37 record, the Wizards will undoubtedly be sellers at the deadline.

However, Gafford is one of their best players and is only 25 years old, making him a potential part of their young core. He is also reasonably priced as he is in the first year of his three-year $42 million Bird Rights extension.

Given this, as well as Gafford being a sought-after player in the trade market, any Lakers trade package would have to include a player and draft capital going to the Wizards.

Rui Hachimura would make sense to include, as his salary matches up with Gafford’s, and the Lakers already have good depth at the forward position. Gabe Vincent would line up contractually, but his deal is viewed as a negative asset around the league.

This year's NBA draft also has a great center prospect in Australia’s Alexandre Sarr, and the Wizards are projected to finish with a top-three pick. This could make Gafford much more expendable at the deadline.

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