The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly interested in trading for a 24-year-old $56 million star.
Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported on the January 28 episode of his podcast that the Lakers have Toronto Raptors small forward Gary Trent Jr. on their radar.
“I have been told that Trent is at least on the Lakers’ radar,” Fischer said. “I don’t know if they have actually called Toronto and had active conversations about it, things that actually move the needle, but I’ve been told and believe from credible folks maybe it’s not a lusting desire for Gary Trent, but he at least seems to be someone they’re monitoring. But maybe that’s also just someone from a certain agency suggesting that. Maybe that’s all it is. But we shall see.”
The Lakers almost traded for Trent Jr. last season. The swingman, who signed a three-year, $51.8 million contract with the Raptors in August 2021, is making $17.3 million this season and has a player option worth $18.6 million for next season. If Trent Jr. picks up his 2023-24 player option, he will have made more than $56 million in his career once the summer of 2024 hits.
Trent Jr. is represented by Klutch Sports Group, the same agency Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis are with. The Duke product is averaging 18.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists this season for the Raptors while shooting 44.5% from the field, 36.9% from beyond the arc and 82.9% from the free-throw line.
How Can the Lakers Acquire Gary Trent Jr.?
Under CBA rules, the Lakers can trade Patrick Beverley, Juan Toscano-Anderson and a 2027 first-round pick to the Raptors for Trent Jr. Kyle Irving of The Sporting News wrote about that trade on January 13.
“The Lakers’ 2027 first-round pick would be the driving force in this deal, with the players there just to match salaries,” Irving wrote. “Beverley and Toscano-Anderson are both on expiring contracts, and Toronto could do what it pleases with each of them at the end of the season.”
The Lakers need more shooters around James and Davis and Trent Jr. fits that bill. The Ohio native has made 117 3s this season in 44 games. Los Angeles’ leader in 3-pointers is James, who has made only 88 in 40 games.
The Raptors could be open for business with the NBA trade deadline approaching (February 9). Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on January 30 that Toronto would make a decision soon on how to proceed with the rest of the season.
“Because of the Raptors’ disappointing season thus far (they are currently 23-28 and in 12th place in the East), rival teams have been informed that the franchise will make a decision about being a buyer or seller – or standing pat – near deadline day, according to league sources who, like all the other sources in this story, were granted anonymity so that they would be able to speak freely,” Charania wrote. “The Raptors are currently 2-1 on their six-game road trip that concludes on Feb. 5.”
Lakers’ Rob Pelinka: Rui Hachimura Trade ‘Doesn’t Mean Our Work Is Finished’
Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka told reporters on January 24 that he could make another trade after acquiring Rui Hachimura if the deal makes sense for the team. Los Angeles acquired Hachimura from the Washington Wizards for Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks.
“I think the calculus for the Lakers is to win a championship or not. There’s no in-between or incremental growth,” Pelinka said. “So as we analyze opportunities, we have to do it through that lens. And, I said this at the beginning of the season, if there’s an opportunity to get all the way to the end and win a championship, there’s no resource we’ll hold on to if we feel like that’s there.
“The completely unwise thing to do would be to shoot a bullet early and then not have it later when you have a better championship move you can make. That’s a really delicate calculus and something the entire front office, we evaluate with all the moves. If we see a move that puts us as a front-runner to get another championship here, the 18th one here, we’ll make it. And if that move doesn’t present itself, we’ll be smart and make it at a later time.”
The Lakers are 23-27 on the season.