3 Trade Targets for Lakers to Consider Before Rumor Mill Picks Up

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVNovember 22, 2022

3 Trade Targets for Lakers to Consider Before Rumor Mill Picks Up

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 12: Myles Turner #33 of the Indiana Pacers shoots the ball against Chris Boucher #25 of the Toronto Raptors at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on November 12, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Lakers have their first real winning streak of the 2022-23 NBA season.

    Clearly, everything is back on track with the Hollywood hoops scene, right?

    Not at all. Credit the Lakers for handling business of late, but it's worth nothing this run has only included triumphs over a Brooklyn Nets team missing both Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons, and two rebuilding squads in the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs.

    Again, this isn't intended to rain on L.A.'s parade, but it also isn't evidence that the front office needs to keep this roster intact. In fact, those decision-makers should already be mulling over potential pursuits of the following three trade targets.

Buddy Hield (and Myles Turner), Indiana Pacers

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    HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 18: Buddy Hield #24 of the Indiana Pacers dribbles the ball during the game against the Houston Rockets on November 18, 2022 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

    Admittedly, this is far from a novel idea.

    In fact, if the Lakers wanted both Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, they could've had them already. The sticking point for L.A., though, has been the inclusion of two future first-round picks, the only two firsts the Lakers are allowed to trade.

    The hesitance is understandable. Franchises should never mortgage their future for what might amount to nothing more than a first-round cameo.

    Having said all of that, the Lakers need to pick a direction pretty soon: either pushing hard for this season or pivoting toward the future by shipping out marquee players, like LeBron James and Anthony Davis. If L.A. doesn't want to pull the plug, then it has to get James and Davis more help.

    While Hield and Turner aren't stars, they both look like perfect fits for this roster. The former ranks favorably among the league's very best shooters, and the latter scratches itches for paint protection and floor spacing.

    In a single swap, the Lakers could give their offense more breathing room and their defense more insurance.

Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 01: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets brings the ball up the court during the third quarter of the game against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center on November 01, 2022 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
    Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

    The Lakers' trade budget is limited, particularly if they don't want to cough up both of their future firsts.

    It's possible, though, that a package of Westbrook and one of those picks could bring back a needle-mover. The only catch is that said needle-mover is the unpredictable (and often unreliable) Kyrie Irving.

    Due to injuries, suspensions and personal decisions, the 30-year-old has suited up just 112 times since the start of 2019-20. He has played roughly 800 minutes more during this stretch than Scottie Barnes—the fourth overall pick of the 2021 draft.

    A deal for Irving would be a massive gamble, but the Lakers might have to settle for a scratch-off if they don't want to pay top dollar.

    If the cost is only Westbrook and one first, the best-case scenario for the swap is nothing short of grand larceny.

    Irving has proved he can win big with James, and all of the time off in recent years hasn't sapped him of his elite scoring prowess. He's actually as productive as ever, averaging 27 points on 48.7/39.5/92.1 shooting over this absence-filled stretch.

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

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    WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 18: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards celebrates after a play against the Miami Heat during the second half at Capital One Arena on November 18, 2022 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    Take any time to ponder it, and it really boggles the mind that Westbrook remains on the Lakers' roster. His fit with James looked awkward as soon as his trade to L.A. went down, and in practice, it might be even worse than expected.

    So, why haven't the Lakers brokered a blockbuster yet? Well, the right player apparently hasn't shaken loose yet.

    "They're waiting for a specific player," Sports Illustrated's Howard Beck reported (h/t Peter Dewey of Lakers Daily). "... The Lakers are waiting for a bigger piece to come loose that they think they can trade Westbrook and the two future firsts for."

    Identifying a possibly-available-at-some-point star who could reasonably fit the Lakers' price range isn't easy, and there are surely Washington Wizards fans—and maybe executives—who would push back on the notion Bradley Beal could be that player.

    It's still fair to speculate, though, that at some point Beal and the Wizards will accept they're going nowhere fast together.

    It's too soon to make that call now, but once the 29-year-old becomes trade-eligible in mid-January? If Washington looks trapped near the back end of the Eastern Conference's middle class? And none of the young Wizards have flashed fortune-changing upside? That hardly seems absurd.

    If the Lakers can ever get their hands on Beal, he could be the biggest hope to cure much of what ails their punch-less offense. The fact that he operates as both an on-ball shot-creator and an off-ball spot-up shooter means he should be a snug fit both alongside L.A.'s other stars and by himself when the others need a breather.

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