The Lakers took a patient approach on Thursday, opting to not make any moves despite weeks and months of rumors suggesting they wanted to move D'Angelo Russell before the trade deadline. But as Feb. 8 neared that began to change, as Russell began to play his best basketball in a Lakers uniform. Suddenly the reported talks between them and the Atlanta Hawks to take on guard Dejounte Murray fizzled, and L.A. opted to stick with their roster as currently constructed for the remainder of the season.

While there were probably people who think the Lakers should've made some sort of move at the deadline to improve a team that sits ninth in the Western Conference with a 27-26 record, by making no moves now the Lakers position themselves to potentially make a big deal this offseason. L.A. is expected to have three tradable first-round picks this summer, the kind of ammo needed to land a star player, which is what the Lakers are hoping to accomplish in the offseason, per The Athletic's Jovan Buha.

With a trio of first-round picks at their disposal this summer, Buha reports that three potential targets for the Lakers are Kyrie Irving, Trae Young and Donovan Mitchell, which would be in line with CBS Sports' Bill Reiter's reporting from Thursday on the Lakers' interest in adding Young or Mitchell to their roster this summer. The Lakers' interest in Irving is well reported, and L.A. fell just short of acquiring him at last season's deadline as Brooklyn liked Dallas' trade package better. Irving then re-signed this summer with the Mavericks, but that doesn't mean he or Dallas wouldn't be interested in a trade if L.A. is willing to pony up draft picks, something the Mavericks are severely lacking after two moves on Thursday ensured that they won't control any of their first-round picks from 2027 to 2030. Irving also has a history of playing alongside LeBron James back in Cleveland, where the two won a championship together in 2016. A reunion wouldn't be at all surprising, but Irving does come with baggage and an injury history that's already forced him to miss 22 games this season.

Trying to land Young would be an interesting pivot for the Lakers who were trying to trade for his backcourt partner in Murray just a couple of weeks ago, but rumors circulated shortly after the deadline that Young may be available via trade this summer. If that's the case, then it's an avenue L.A. should certainly consider. Young is a prolific offensive player, is a three-time All-Star and would provide the Lakers with the exact type of scoring injection it's been looking for to put next to James and Anthony Davis. He's also only 25 years old, so if James does leave in a couple years either through retirement or because he wants a new challenge elsewhere, L.A. would still have Young and Davis to build around.

But if Young is available this summer, L.A. will be far from the only team vying for his services. The same is true of Donovan Mitchell, who will enter the fourth year of a five-year rookie max extension he signed in 2020. Mitchell has been a player who has been talked about as a trade candidate since he was dealt from the Utah Jazz to the Cavaliers in 2022, but Cleveland has not made him available via trades. The Cavs have also been successful since Mitchell joined the team, and currently hold the No. 2 seed in the East with a 9-1 record in their last 10 games. 

If Mitchell was available, either because Cleveland wants to trade him or he asked to be dealt elsewhere, the New York Knicks would likely be the most aggressive team to land him, as they tried to get him when he asked out of Utah. The Knicks have been making incredibly savvy moves recently, are the No. 4 team in the East, and are armed with draft picks to facilitate a trade of that magnitude. So the Lakers would have to put their best package out there if they want to contend with a team like the Knicks or the 76ers who can also put together a strong package to land a third star.

Regardless of who the Lakers target, it's clear that despite their inaction at the deadline they plan to be big players in the offseason. We'll just have to see if that aggressiveness translates into a star player capable of vaulting this team back into the conversation of championship contenders.