X

Los Angeles Lakers Trade Ideas Based on Latest Rumors

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured Columnist IVDecember 2, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 28: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball while being defended by Myles Turner #33 of the Indiana Pacers during the game on November 28, 2022 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. 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 Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Trade winds are blowing in Laker Land again because, well, this franchise is a speculation factory first and a basketball team second at the moment.

Multiple sources told The Athletic's Jovan Buha that the Los Angeles Lakers are "weighing three different paths" to noticeably improving their roster. They are as follows:

  • Path 1: "Trade Russell Westbrook, plus a pick or two, for a star or multiplayer haul."
  • Path 2: "Trade some combination of Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn and picks (one first-round and/or multiple second-round picks) for role players who better address needs and upgrade the rotation." 
  • Path 3: This route entails separate deals. "One with Westbrook plus one first-round pick, another using a Beverley-Nunn-pick package."

Naturally, we are all morally obligated to cobble together hypothetical deals that fall under each of these umbrellas. These are mine.

Path 1: The Star Route

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 9: Buddy Hield #24 and Myles Turner #33 of the Indiana Pacers smiles during the Pacers Fan Jam on October 9, 2022 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Oshae Brissett, Buddy Hield, Myles Turner, Cleveland's 2023 first-round pick (lottery-protected; turns into two seconds if not conveyed)

Indiana Pacers Receive: Damian Jones, Russell Westbrook, Chicago's 2023 second-round pick, Lakers 2027 first-round pick (unprotected), Lakers 2029 first-round pick (unprotected)

Some version of Turner-to-the-Lakers has been discussed approximately 4.9 kazillion times. There's a reason for it.

Turner is the closest acquisition to a star the Lakers can reasonably chase without almost assuredly getting outbid. Dangling swaps in 2026 and 2028 on top of 2027 and 2029 firsts sounds like a lot in theory. And it is. But other teams will offer more for someone like Bradley Beal or Zach LaVine.

Maaaybe that package gets you into theoretical Beal sweepstakes since he has a no-trade clause. But neither he nor the Washington Wizards have given any indication they wish to dissolve the marriage once he's eligible to be moved on Jan. 15.

A Jimmy Butler trade demand could be interesting for the Lakers. He is 33 with three seasons and an estimated $146.4 million left on his deal (including a 2025-26 player option worth $52.4 million). Both are prohibitive numbers for prospective suitors. But another team might still come over the top of the Lakers' best offer, and for now, this ventures too far into the Land of Make Believe.

Kyrie Irving trade scenarios loom. But the Brooklyn Nets are back above .500, and moving Kyrie risks alienating Kevin Durant, who is absolutely annihilating opposing defenses and already requested a trade once himself.

That brings us back to Turner, who's having his own monster season.

His scoring has never looked spiffier. Post-ups (15.8 percent) haven't accounted for such a high share of his offensive touches since he was a rookie in 2015-16 (21.9 percent), and his 1.21 points per possession in these situations is tied with Brook Lopez for the most among every player to match or exceed his volume. Turner is also downing 37.7 percent of his triples on modest volume (4.7 attempts per 36 minutes), and he's even dropped in some tough runners.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 28: Myles Turner #33 of the Indiana Pacers shoots a three point basket over defender Lonnie Walker IV #4 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game on November 28, 2022 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. 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 Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

All the while, Turner continues to ruin lives around the basket. This is the third consecutive season in which he's averaged more than three blocks per 36 minutes, and he ranks tied for third in total shots contested at the rim despite being outside the top 150 in minutes played.

Figuring out how he gets to Los Angeles has incited taxing back-and-forths. Why would the Lakers give up their two best trade chips for someone entering free agency who plays Anthony Davis' best, albeit least favorite, position? It's a fair question. But Davis and Turner should be a relatively seamless fit on offense thanks to the latter's outside shooting. And the Lakers can make room for extra Turner touches inside the offense if Westbrook is gone.

Surrendering both firsts is still a tough pill to swallow. The Lakers have to pay Turner this summer—and that's assuming he wants to stay. And though Hield's functional shooting is a breath of fresh air for one of the league's clumpiest offenses, his $19.3 million salary for next season makes it harder for L.A. to operate as a meaningful cap-space team in free agency.

Waiting for the Pacers to accept one first-round pick is futile. It gets easier for them to swallow Westbrook's expiring salary ($47.1 million) closer to the trade deadline, but his number is so gargantuan it hamstrings their ability to do anything other than waive him or broker a buyout. They should absolutely assess an opportunity-cost tax even though he's a temporary cap hit.

Expanding the deal to include Brissett and the Cavaliers' 2023 first feels like a nice middle ground. That Cleveland first will be in the 20s if it conveys, and Brissett's playing time has waxed and waned this season. The Pacers should prefer the chance to short the Lakers' long-term future over keeping a low-end first and a player on an expiring contract who doesn't factor into their own bigger picture.

Granted, making this deal takes a special kind of vision. Crown jewels aren't typically picks that don't convey for five and seven drafts. But the Pacers are not drowning in extra first-rounders. This is a chance to deepen their asset chest. Those Lakers firsts could be gems they draft and develop or highly coveted trade assets they reroute down the line when they're really good. Forking over Cleveland's first is also a negligible add-on when Indy owns Boston's pick (top-12 protection) and, equally important, juices up the value of its own 2023 selection.

This still counts as the Lakers going all-in. That's a bit unsettling when the return doesn't feature a surefire All-Star. But this package nets another (likely first-round) pick they can move later, and Brissett has quietly nailed 41.4 percent of his threes since mid-November while maintaining his positional flexibility on defense.

Path 2: The Beverley, Nunn and 1 First Route

SAN ANTONIO, TX - NOVEMBER 26: Jakob Poeltl #25 of the San Antonio Spurs goes up for the rebound against the Los Angeles Lakers on November 26, 2022 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, 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 (Photos by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images)
Photos by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Jakob Poeltl, Josh Richardson

San Antonio Spurs Receive: Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn, Chicago's 2023 second-round pick, Lakers' 2027 first-round pick (unprotected)

Some Spurs fans will no doubt insist Poeltl is worth more than a singular first-round pick. That's a tough case to make. If we're talking about two lower-end first-rounders? Perhaps. But an unprotected pick a half-decade(ish) out? Not so much.

San Antonio, mind you, isn't absorbing Westbrook as part of this package. That matters. Teams are supposed to charge for that service. The Spurs are evading it altogether. (Nunn and Beverley can be rerouted or will eventually, if not immediately, become buyout candidates.)

Poeltl's overall value is further complicated by limitations and free agency, as well. He is a crafty decision-maker near the elbows, great screen-setter and savvy rim protector who's overstretched within the context of San Antonio's roster. He's also a crunch-time liability because of his free-throw shooting, and his entry into free agency this summer renders him a flight risk. The quad injury he's dealing with right now doesn't help, either.

The Lakers won't value Poeltl anywhere near as much as Turner—and correctly so. His offensive fit next to AD isn't squeaky clean, and he's unlikely to be part of their go-to closing units. Still, the things he does well will help. Especially when Damian Jones and Thomas Bryant have failed to make an impact.

Richardson, meanwhile, is mission-critical wing depth. He can be matched up defensively with everyone from guards to power wings and subsists at the other end on a large amount of catch-and-fire threes, which he's burying at a 40 percent clip.

Traveling this path overall feels half-baked for the Lakers. It allows them to straddle two lines in theory, but it's a vote of half-confidence in practice. If that's what they want, then so be it. This trade makes them better, doesn't entirely bankrupt their first-round-pick stores and preserves their capacity to dredge up $30-plus million in cap space over the summer.

Path 3: The Multi-Deal Route

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 1: Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Detroit Pistons dribbles the ball during the game against the Dallas Mavericks on December 1, 2022 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. 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 Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Bojan Bogdanović, Alec Burks, Malik Beasley, Mike Conley, Kelly Olynyk

Detroit Pistons Receive: Patrick Beverley, Rudy Gay, unprotected 2029 first-round pick (via Lakers

Utah Jazz Receive: Damian Jones, Kendrick Nunn, Russell Westbrook, 2023 second-round pick (via Chicago), 2026 first-round swap (via Lakers), unprotected 2027 first-round pick (via Lakers)

So I shoehorned this route into one three-team megatrade. Sue me. The spirit of Path 3 remains intact.

This return does a whole lot of everything for the Lakers. Kelly Olynyk and Bojan Bogdanović beef up their front-line size and space the floor. Olynyk can play next to AD or at the 5 himself when Davis sits. Bogdanović's three-ball has dipped below 30 percent since around the start of November, which mostly coincides with the absence of Cade Cunningham (shin injury). Luckily, the Lakers have LeBron James to tee him up. Bogdanović also gives L.A. another situational one-on-one option who's not an undersized guard.

Malik Beasley arms the Lakers with desperately needed three-point volume and accuracy. He's canning over 39 percent of his triples on eight attempts per game. While he's best suited as a pure 2, he can log some reps at the 3. His team option for next season ($16.5 million) is a luxury that drives up his price tag.

That's where Mike Conley comes in. He becomes an insta-fixer when he returns from his knee strain—someone who can manage and initiate the half-court offense but has zero issue moving without and just generally playing off the ball. He is also 35, with a $14.3 million guarantee heading into his age-36 season. His full salary ($24.4 million) isn't bad money, but it's not an asset.

Utah's view of the deal rests on how it views Beasley and having to ingest Westbrook's salary. CEO Danny Ainge and general manager Justin Zanik will push for both firsts. I don't think the Jazz are surrendering enough for that leverage. Moving them for anything less than both firsts made more sense before the team's recent return to solid ground. But neither Olynyk nor Conley is part of the future or bagging a first on their own. And I doubt even combining them in a separate deal gets one unless Utah sponges up bad long-term money.

The Jazz don't have to do that here. Getting out from under Conley's monster (but partial) guarantee in addition to Gay's 2023-24 player option is a win. That plus taking back only expiring money and a 2026 pick swap should be enough to offset their not receiving the second outright first-rounder.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 4: Malik Beasley #5 of the Utah Jazz dribbles the ball during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on November 4, 2022 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. 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 Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

This package can be reworked if Utah prefers the 2029 Lakers first. Detroit can accept either pick and be happy. The Pistons don't have a bunch of extra firsts themselves, and though they recently extended Bogdanović, he's more of a stopgap convenience than necessity. Moving him becomes a no-brainer if Cunningham is expected to miss a huge chunk of the season. And even if Detroit can get a first from another team, it is not getting one this far off into the distance.

Including Burks and taking on Gay's extra year of salary isn't overkill. Again: We're talking about a distant unprotected first-round pick in exchange for non-core players and a tiny amount of cap flexibility.

Burks might be a touch superfluous on a version of the Lakers that has Conley, Beasley, Bogdanović, LeBron and Lonnie Walker IV. Whatever. They can steal minutes with him at the 3 in smaller lineups, and going from a deficit of secondary shot creation and three-point shooting to a surplus is hardly bad.

Whether the Lakers are willing to foot an inflated luxury tax bill after this trade is a separate matter. They should be. If they cheap out, though, this package can easily be reworked to exclude Burks' money from their ledger.


Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball Reference, Stathead or Cleaning the Glass and accurate entering Friday's games. Salary information via Spotrac.

Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@danfavale), and subscribe to the Hardwood Knocks podcast, co-hosted by Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes.