With the NBA trade deadline just over two weeks away, the rumor mill is running at full speed. Among those teams potentially in the mix are the Los Angeles Lakers, who have a handful of valuable assets that could be off-loaded as the team looks to move their focus to the future.
Instead of providing a list of our own trades concocted on the Trade Machine, we offered a spin on it. Five writers offered up the best, most realistic trade they could think of in the trade machine. Then, each were randomly assigned a different trade to analyze and critique.
The end product is this article, which dives into five trades the Lakers could look to make in the next two weeks.
+ NOP 2018 first rounder to BKN
Trade by: Dillon Hiser
Analysis by: Honi Ahmadian
This is a steal of a trade for the Lakers. Getting Jrue Holiday by only giving up Tarik Black and Lou Williams is an insanely promising hypothetical. Even though Holiday is a free agent this summer, acquiring his Bird rights and giving him a half-season to play with the team would be a worthy risk, especially considering what is being sent back. Holiday is the exact type of player the Lakers should pursue this offseason: a playmaker and perimeter defender. Trading for him now would make re-signing him in July much easier and much more likely.
As for the other teams, things get a little dicey here. The Pelicans get a decent haul with Williams and Brook Lopez. Giving up Holiday, Buddy Hield, and a first-rounder might be a little too much (especially the pick) to trade for an oft-injured center to pair with their oft-injured power forward, Anthony Davis.
Perhaps the risk of Holiday leaving in free agency and the ability to get rid of Omer Asik’s contract (that still somehow has four years remaining on it) is enough to move the needle, but it’s not wise for a Pelicans’ team without a lot of cap space or talent to give up two cost-controlled talents for Lopez. That’s not to mention that trading Holiday (whose addition mid-season after a personal absence led to New Orleans’ surge from the bottom of the conference) would take away the Pelicans’ main offensive distributor without much left to replace his role. Their next best option is…Tyreke Evans?
The Nets have some decent incentive to get involved. Lopez’s timeline does not fit the rest of the team as Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson spearhead a massive rebuild. Brooklyn needs young players that it can build around. The jury is still out on Hield but he projects to be at least a decent rotation player as a shooter and adding another pick that would likely be in the middle region of next year’s draft is a good proposition. Black is a bit of a throw-in but he’s a useful player who is still young and the Nets could retain him to remain a little more competitive. Brooklyn is suited to take on Asik’s contract since it has plenty of cap space and won’t be attracting free agents any time soon. They can stretch him out once the length of the contract is shorter.
The main issue here is that they can probably get a better haul for Lopez who has stayed healthy this year, is a really good player who is still improving (34 percent from three on five attempts per game!), and who has two years remaining on his deal. But that depends on the market for centers as the deadline approaches and Lopez is more valuable now than he will be next year. Perhaps that gets Brooklyn moving more hastily.
So all that being said, the final verdict is that the Pelicans say no, the Nets are 50-50, and the Lakers say yes and hang up the phone before anyone can change their minds. Get it done, Mitch.
+ MIL 2017 first rounder (top 3 protected) to LAL (unprotected 2018 first rounder if not conveyed in 2017)
Trade by: Drew Hernandez
Analysis by: Hiser
I think this trade works for both sides but I think Milwaukee would be hesitant to give up a first rounder for essentially two rentals.
Nick Young would help them by adding a shooter that defenses would have to respect his range. They aren’t a bad three point shooting team percentage wise, where they rank seventh (.368%), but they attempt the fourth fewest shots from behind the arc per game (23.1).
Dellavedova helps the Lakers in a few areas such as defense and playmaking as he averages 5.4 assists per game but his contract is basically dead money for four years since there are no options.
Tying up money into more role players is something I don’t think the Lakers would do, but getting a possible lottery pick in either 2017 or 2018 might sweeten the pot enough for them to pull the trigger.
Trade by: Gary Kester
Analysis by: Hernandez
This is a good trade for both teams. The Pistons are in the playoff race and adding more offensive firepower helps them quite a bit.
Sure Lou Williams may not be young but he can benefit a playoff team and Tarik Black is an upgrade over Aron Baynes so they’d improve their front court. They’d also have more flexibility with Black’s contract as it’s a team option for next year.
I believe the Lakers also approve this trade. Aron Baynes is an older center and Stanley Johnson may be underwhelming on offense, but Johnson can benefit from developing under an offensive minded coach in Luke Walton.
He has plenty of tools to be at least an average offensive player, but his real value comes from his defense. He’s a good defender already and has room to be an elite defender so I still consider him a good prospect.
While Baynes is a downgrade from Black, the Lakers are getting enough value back to offset that. And Baynes’ player option for next season could see him opt out considering he’d be behind Timofey Mozgov and Ivica Zubac in the rotation.
Another thing to consider is the Lakers tank efforts. If you support a Laker tank, then trading Black and Williams helps their tank effort by a fair amount.
In total, the Pistons adding Black and Williams improves their playoff efforts and gives them more flexibility with their contracts, and adding Stanley Johnson to their young core finally gives the Lakers a good young defender not named Brandon Ingram.
Trade by: Grant Goldberg
Analysis by: Kester
This one is really interesting, because there are so many different factors. I honestly feel bad for Dante Exum. He had a rocky start to his career as a rookie coming over from Australia, and it was immediately followed by a torn ACL that robbed him of a season’s worth of development. By the time he returned, the Jazz acquired George Hill, forcing Exum to spend several nights watching the full 48 minutes of action from the bench. Playing time has been hard to come by for the 21-year-old this season, but with Hill entering free agency this summer, I’m not convinced Utah is willing to give up on the kid they spent the No. 5 overall pick on in 2014.
However, the Jazz are currently sitting at fourth in the Western Conference, so a player like Lou Williams could help them make a serious run this season with Hill and Gordon Hayward about to hit the free agent market. Do they go all-in on winning right now or do they reserve a role for Exum and still believe in him? Well, if they traded away Exum and Hill signed elsewhere in July for the lucrative deal he is sure to get, Utah would just have Shelvin Mack at point guard, leaving them searching for answers at that position.
On the other side of this, it depends on how the Lakers would evaluate Exum’s potential. The team needs more shooting, perimeter defense and playmaking. While his shot still needs a ton of work (27.3 percent from three this year), Exum has had moments that show his upside as a defender and as a playmaker. Also, Los Angeles would be getting a team-friendly contract in return, as Exum won’t become a restricted free agent until after next season.
With all of that being said, Williams is easily the team’s most productive veteran, and the Lakers don’t seem to be in a hurry to trade him and his excellent contract. This has probably been the best season of his career (27.1 points on a 60.1 true shooting percentage and 4.7 assists per 36 minutes). There is certainly an argument that can be made that the Lakers could net a better return while his stock is this high. Additionally, Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss have stated their belief in the team having the perfect amount of youth already.
While this deal can definitely be rationalized for each side, I think both teams would tend to lean towards keeping the players being proposed here.
Trade by: Ahmadian
Analysis by: Goldberg
This certainly would not be a bad move for the Lakers. Well, unless Dillon created it. Then it is terrible.
But in all seriousness, I like this trade. It frees up cap space for next summer with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s bargain contract and Kilpatrick’s non-guaranteed deal. Kilpatrick would be a nice stopgap replacement for Clarkson until free agency hits. Jefferson solidifies the Lakers’ frontcourt rotation, especially if the team looks to move big man and non-NBA player Tarik Black.
In order for the Nets to accept, it feels like there would need to be at least a second round pick thrown in the deal. The Nets are looking for draft picks and in order for them to give up a young prospect like Jefferson, they would need some kind of future return along with Clarkson.