The Los Angeles Lakers missed the playoffs last season despite having LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. They were so putrid that they didn’t even qualify for the play-in tournament. The purple and gold went 33-49, finishing in 11th place in the Western Conference standings.
Most people around the NBA believe the Lakers need to make a blockbuster trade to compete for the title next season, which is why Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley proposed a “wild” trade on August 12 involving the Brooklyn Nets.
In a column called “Trade Ideas to Improve Every NBA Starting Lineup,” Buckley wrote that the Lakers should trade Davis, Westbrook and two future first-round picks to the Nets for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
“In a single swap, the Lakers could go from swimming upstream toward the play-in tournament to cannon-ball splashing their way into the deep end of contenders,” Buckley wrote. “Maybe this proves to be a pie-in-the-sky pursuit, but wow, is it fascinating. Irving reuniting with James? Durant joining forces with the player he so often finished just behind in the best-on-the-planet debates? All of it playing out under the Hollywood spotlight? Magnificent.”
Durant has requested a trade from the Nets, while Irving has been consistently linked to the Lakers all summer. James and Irving were teammates on the Cleveland Cavaliers for three seasons and won the 2016 championship together over the Golden State Warriors in seven games.
NBA Insider Agrees with Buckley
An NBA insider who spoke to Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus on July 28 urged the Lakers to trade Westbrook and Davis for Durant and Irving. Westbrook was a poor fit next to James last season due to his inability to shoot jumpers and Davis hasn’t proven he can stay healthy.
“Kyrie is the move,” the NBA insider told Pincus. “They should offer Davis with Westbrook. Try and get Kevin Durant. KD for AD and a pick is as close as [the Nets] will get to what they want.”
Irving is a better shooter than Westbrook. The seven-time All-Star is a career 39.3% shooter from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Westbrook is at 30.5%. The one-time MVP had the sixth-worst effective field goal percentage in the NBA last season and was 42nd in true shooting percentage.
James, who will turn 38 in December, is friends with Durant. The two future Hall of Famers could form arguably the most unstoppable offensive duo in NBA history if Los Angeles could acquire Durant, who is fourth all-time in points per game, while James is fifth.
However, the odds of the Lakers getting Durant are extremely low.
Lakers Won’t Trade Davis
According to a June 30 report from Sam Amick and Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the Lakers won’t trade Davis to get Durant. Los Angeles is focused on getting Irving.
“As for the prospect of the Lakers trying to get in on the Durant sweepstakes themselves, perhaps by making Davis available in the process, a source close to the situation put the chances at ‘zero.’ Their focus, it seems, is on Irving,” Amick and Buha reported. “And vice versa.”
Davis signed a five-year, $190 million contract with the Lakers in December 2020. The deal includes an early termination option in 2024 and will be fully up in 2025. The eight-time All-Star has only played in 76 games over the last two seasons due to injuries. Davis, 29, has averaged 24.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 blocks in 138 regular-season games with the Lakers.
According to a July 29 report from Marc Stein of Substack, James wants the Lakers to trade for Irving. Stein also reported that Westbrook is aware of James’ desire to play with Irving.
“As it stands, barring a trade to ship out Westbrook suddenly coalescing after weeks of fruitless talks, (Darvin) Ham is going to have to coach Westbrook, which is bound to be challenging in the extreme given that Westbrook is well aware that the Lakers have been trying hard to move him,” Stein reported. “And that James badly wants Irving to take his place.”