After a blockbuster deadline deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers that included All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, the Los Angeles Lakers appear to have an imbalanced roster with starting point guard Lonzo Ball sidelined indefinitely by a leg injury and without two essential scorers. The trade seems to confirm further that the Lakers have more interest in luring a marquee free agent this summer or in 2019 than making a serious push for the playoffs this season. 

The Lakers traded away combo guard Jordan Clarkson, who averages 14.5 points per game, and power forward Larry Nance Jr., who shoots 60.1 percent from the field, to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Thomas, Channing Frye and a 2018 first-round pick. By dealing Clarkson's contract, the Lakers have freed up an estimated $49.6 million in cap space, which could help the front office land free agents.

The Lakers are almost certain to miss the playoffs. Los Angeles has the 11th-best record in the competitive Western Conference, and the addition of Thomas does little to improve their chances. The 29-year-old has battled injuries and is shooting just 36.1 percent from the field over 15 games.

Ball's absence is also not encouraging. But with or without him, the Lakers may not see a significant difference in production. 

Los Angeles initially went 0-8 once Ball was ruled out with an MCL sprain, but managed to turn things around, winning seven of their last nine games. Ball noted that the young roster had performed well despite his injury. 

"They know what works: pace and defense," Ball told reporters during Wednesday’s practice. "We been doing that and we’ve been winning. As long as everybody plays together, we just stay in the locker room and don’t worry about the trading and stuff that’s going on, we should be okay."

Ball leads the team in assists at 7.1 per game, while Brandon Ingram averages a team-best 15.9 points a game. Julius Randle, who somehow is still on the Lakers roster despite heavy trade speculation, averages a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game.

Without Ball at the helm, the Lakers have been a top-10 team when looking at points allowed per 100 possessions (104.4) and possessions per game (100.70), according to NBA.com.

Ball is averaging 10.2 points and 7.1 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Thomas is in the last year of a four-year contract. Frye will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

The Lakers reportedly have interest in luring a number of high-profile free agents this summer or next year. The list includes LeBron James, Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, and Klay Thompson.

Lonzo Ball Lonzo Ball averaged 25 points, 11 rebounds, 9.1 assists, 5 blocks, and 5 steals during his junior year at Chino Hills High School. Photo: Getty Images