After trading for Rui Hachimura, the Lakers still have work to do to become an actual championship contender. What comes next?
When Anthony Davis and LeBron James are healthy, the Lakers are still a contender for a championship. Currently, this team is the No. 12 seed, but only four games out of the No. 4 seed and 5.5 games out of the No. 3 seed.
Yes, calling this team a title contender is a bit of a stretch but if the Lakers made some trades and went all-in, they could have a shot if LeBron and AD are healthy.
What do the Lakers have to try and make another trade?
Draft assets (simplified): 2027 and 2029 first-round picks, four second-round picks available for trade
Contracts: Russell Westbrook ($47 million) and Patrick Beverly ($13 million)
Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley are the two main expiring this team has. The NBA trade deadline is in 10 days. The Lakers need to make a move if they want to capitalize on LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Lakers should take advantage of Westbrook’s big deal and get two rotation players back in any deal. Beverley’s contract and second-round pick could get you a playable player in the rotation or someone solid on a bad contract. The Lakers will likely have to use the two first-round picks in the Westbrook deal, just because his contract is so large and value so low.
Teams the Lakers should target for a trade
Raptors: The Raptors are below .500 and could be looking to break up the 2019 championship band. The team is struggling and the contracts of Gary Trent, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam are up this year or next. The trouble with this deal for the Lakers is that it would cost Russ and two first-round picks, at a minimum, to get any one of those players. While VanVleet is fine, they need another rotation player in a Russ deal. The three-team trade might be the way to go.
Pistons: Detroit is not going to give up Bojan Bogdanovic without getting a first in return so that might be out of the question (the salary gets hard to deal with in terms of turning Westbrook’s contract into two players). Alec Burks might be available for second round picks.
Spurs: Another team to target for rotation players would be the Spurs, with Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson. The Lakers could inquire about Jakob Poeltl but they don’t really have the assets for him. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype has reported that the Spurs are asking for a second-round pick for Mcdermott and Richardson each.
The best-case scenario for a Lakers trade
The best-case-scenario for the Lakers might be to offer the Spurs, and Raptors the following deal:
3 second-round picks
2 first round picks
Eric Pincus reported that it was that VanVleet was at least a target for the Lakers. It doesn’t really work if you do the trade two-way but adding the Spurs makes all the sense in the world. The Spurs would be trading Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson, receiving Russ and three second-round picks. Swapping Beverley into this deal for the Raptors, making it work salary-wise for Toronto.
I feel like this is a fair trade for all sides, and get the Raptors and Spurs what they wanted for their respective players. When this team is fully healthy, the Lakers would be left with a starting lineup of Vanleet, Austin Reaves, LeBron James, Rui/Doug, and Anthony Davis. The rest of the rotation would be Walker, Dennis Schroder, Doug/Rui, Thomas Bryant, Josh Richardson.
If they think they could beat Grizzles and the Nuggets in a seven-game series, then this trade would absolutely be worth the risk, even if it’s giving up a big part of the Lakers’ future.
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