The Los Angeles Lakers are always involved in trade season in some capacity. While in-season trades have not occurred often in Los Angeles, the team always seems to find itself in rumors this time of year.
This season is no different. The Lakers were recently reported to have spoken with the Atlanta Hawks about Paul Millsap before he was seemingly taken off the trade block. According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the team also has interest in Philadelphia 76ers’ center Nerlens Noel:
The Lakers have inserted themselves on trade talks this season and will continue to do so. They had talks with Atlanta about Paul Millsap and expressed interest in Nerlens Noel, if the Sixers decide to go ahead with a deal for him. But the best asset the Lakers can put forth is a future draft pick, probably not until 2021 depending on how the lottery plays out this May. That’s going to limit their activity on the market, and there is a chance they could even be a seller with a veteran such as Luol Deng.
The Millsap rumors were always to be taken with a grain of salt due to his contract status and age; he was not a great fit for a rebuilding team. Noel, however, is a very interesting player for the Lakers. He fits the mold of the young core and can be inserted where the Lakers have a need: as a rim-protecting center. He is also a free agent this summer but as he is restricted, the Lakers would have the right to match any offer for him should he be added to the team.
Nevertheless, any trade seems improbable at this point. As Deveney reports, the Lakers are very unlikely to trade any of their five major young players and teams like the Sixers are probably not interested in the Lakers’ veterans:
That’s because the Lakers are not moving any of the three [D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram], even as we enter the silly season of NBA trade discussions. According to league sources, the Lakers have not included any of the three into trade discussions, and do not figure to change that. They’re unlikely to consider moves involving their two other young role players, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., who figure to be key parts of the rotation in the near future.
Deveney also reports that scouts have been raving about the Russell, Randle, Ingram trio so it would not be surprising to hear their names in rumors. Fortunately, the Lakers appear to be making the right decision in not trading any of those players and being stingy in even moving Clarkson or Nance.
LA has a strong young core that fits well together. They are not close to being a contender so the best they can do is develop those players and hope to inspire some free agents to join them in the future. For now, they will call and listen to offers, but fans should probably rest easy about their young players being traded.