Something big is brewing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now, what that something is or when it will happen isn't entirely clear, but the Lakers are sending up enough clouds of trade smoke to assume a significant change is coming, probably sooner than later.
While Kyrie Irving's name has been most commonly connected to the Purple and Gold, he isn't the preferred target for everyone with the team, as Heavy.com's Sean Deveney reported:
"Rather than going all-in for Irving, a move supported by star forward LeBron James, some within the organization want to make a wider deal that would send out Russell Westbrook, draft picks and perhaps guard Talen Horton-Tucker for the veteran Indiana duo of shooter Buddy Hield and center Myles Turner."
It's good to have options, if for no other reason than to highlight the fact the Lakers aren't stuck; not stuck with the same core responsible for last season's 11th-place finish in the Western Conference, and not stuck with the massive burden that is Westbrook's salary.
Now, the Lakers don't have all options available. There aren't enough assets in the pool for them to pursue a deal for Kevin Durant or Donovan Mitchell.
Still, with two future first-round picks to throw around and Talen Horton-Tucker to dangle—he didn't have a great 2021-22 season, but he's still a 21-year-old with impressive upside—they can give chase to some impact additions.
But which one is worth it?
There are myriad arguments to be made for Irving, not least of which is the fact he is clearly the most talented player connected to the Lakers in trade talks. Seven of his 11 NBA seasons have featured an All-Star selection. Three saw him snag All-NBA honors. One featured a championship run secured by his dagger-for-the-ages.
Plus, James himself is pulling for this. You can insert all the LeGM jokes you want here, but the input of a superstar matters anywhere, particularly with James approaching the final season of his contract.
Saying all of that, the Lakers basically get one crack at the trade market. They don't have enough resources for a second swing, so this is it. How could they put everything in the Irving basket when injuries and personal decisions have only allowed him to play 103 games over the past three seasons combined?
That feels way too risky with so much riding on this season, especially when the Turner-Hield combo is a really good package.
Turner can shore up the paint protection and expand the offensive spacing. Hield is the lights-out shooter this roster lacks, and he could absolutely feast on catch-and-launch opportunities while working off of James and Anthony Davis.
The offense would add an electric element. The defense would find its backbone. And both should have more security than Irving can offer, since Hield almost never misses a game and Turner has been more available than Irving.
Look, Lakers fans won't complain if the club can transform Westbrook and trade sweeteners into Irving, but they should celebrate even more if the same offer delivers Hield and Turner instead.