With the Feb. 8 trade deadline just three days away, rumors of potential deals for the Los Angeles Lakers are heating up.
Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson are the two most likely to get moved and, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers have already been presented offers for them centered around a first-round pick.
"From what I understand, they've had offers for Randle and Clarkson," Shelburne explained on The Lowe Post (h/t Lakers Outsiders). "They've had offers where they could potentially get a first-round pick back, but then you don't save any money on salary, right? Or you're cash flat. You get a pick but you're cash flat."
The Lakers haven't accepted any offers yet, and that's likely because a first-round draft pick isn't enough to move the needle. In order to stick to their plan of being able to offer two max contracts this offseason, they need to also get salary relief in any potential deal.
"This is where you get to see if they are modern GMs," Shelburne added. "Because they did one of those trades where, you know in every deal you have a checkbox? You have three ideas you want to check off the list, right? 'We want to keep our flexibility, we want to not add cap space and we want young players, maybe get a draft pick, etc.' Well they were able to do that with that Mozgov trade, right? They were able to do—everything they wanted to trade, they did in that one. I think they would love to do the same thing in all their conversations they're having. But this may be a two or three step process for them to shed the kind of salary they need to shed while also getting assets."
That process would include making two separate trades to move both Randle and Clarkson.
Question is, can the Lakers repeat that feat by the trade deadline?
Shelburne insisted they could, but it wouldn't be simple.
"Which means you do one trade now and probably package whatever you got then or you use the draft pick yourself and then you made another trade at the draft," Shelburne said. "That's a little more complicated, right? Because you have to pull off it off twice, but I think that's more where they are right now."
In a perfect world, the Lakers would be able to dump Luol Deng's contract, which pays him $18 million per year over the next two years, but the former All-Star has only played in one game this season, so any deal including him might be easier said than done.
Despite playing well of late, both Randle and Clarkson have repeatedly been made available in trade talks by the Lakers front office. But to their credit, they've made both players aware of it, according to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times.
Clarkson, in his fourth season, has handled it well, igniting the Lakers offense every night with 14.7 points per game off the bench. The problem is, his services don't come cheap. He signed a $50 million extension back in 2016 and is owed for two more years.
Randle, also in his fourth season, hasn't handled it very well. Despite averaging 14 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest, his playing time has largely been inconsistent from game to game, reportedly causing frustration for the big man in a contract year.
Randle is a restricted free agent this summer, so if the Lakers don't move him, they'll lose him to another team willing to invest in his talents for nothing in return.