Lakers Have ‘Not Ruled Out’ Making Blockbuster Trade: Report

Lakers GM Rob Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham

Getty Lakers GM Rob Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham

The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly “not ruled out” making a blockbuster trade between now and the 2023 trade deadline, which is in February.

According to a September 30th report from NBA insider Marc Stein, the Lakers could still make a trade where they take on long-term salary and/or give up their prized future draft picks in 2027 and 2029. Los Angeles will only make a deal if it acquires players who can move the needle.

“The Lakers’ undeniable preference throughout the latter stages of the offseason was to preserve their projected 2023 salary cap space for a significant signing next summer,” Stein wrote. “Yet they have not ruled out a deal between now and the Feb. 9 trade deadline that involves taking on long-term salary and/or surrendering their much-discussed future first-round draft picks in 2027 and 2029 … but only if that trade is deemed to clearly return the fallen giants to contender status.”

Stein reported in August that LeBron James was assured the Lakers were willing to trade their available first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to improve the team. The four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP signed a two-year, $97.1 million extension on August 18th. The extension includes a player option for the 2024-25 season.

Rob Pelinka: I Will Trade Picks to Improve Team

Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka told reporters during media day that he will do everything in his power to make the roster better around James, one of the greatest players in NBA history.

“Let me be abundantly clear: We have one of the great players in LeBron James to ever play the game and he committed to us on a long-term contract, a three-year contract,” Pelinka said. “So of course, we will do everything we can, picks included, to make deals to give us a chance to help LeBron get to the end. He committed to our organization. That’s got to be a bilateral commitment and it’s there.”

Russell Westbrook would likely be involved in any trades involving the Lakers’ future draft picks. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported on September 27th’s episode of “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective” that the Lakers were willing to trade their valuable future draft picks for All-Stars Kyrie Irving or Donovan Mitchell over the summer.

“I’ve been told that, listen, had the Lakers been able to acquire Kyrie Irving or the Lakers been able to acquire Donovan Mitchell, both those players, the Lakers were willing and able to move both those picks to acquire,” McMenamin said. “The deals available to them, they didn’t feel like they could get back a player that’s such a difference maker like either of those two.”

The Lakers tried to acquire Irving, James’ old teammate. However, after the Brooklyn Nets announced on August 23rd that two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant would not be traded, Irving was removed from the trade block.

Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz traded Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In return for Mitchell, the Jazz got three unprotected first-round picks, two pick swaps, Ochai Agbaji, Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton.

Pacers, Jazz & Spurs Could Make a Trade with the Lakers

One NBA executive who spoke to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report in August believed the Lakers had three remaining “obvious” partners they could pursue to make a Westbrook trade happen. The anonymous exec listed the San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers and Jazz.

The Lakers could acquire Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson and Rudy Gay from Utah, Buddy Hield and Myles Turner from Indiana or Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson from San Antonio.

According to a September 26th report from Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers were ready to include a first-round pick in a trade for small forward Bojan Bogdanovic. However, Utah traded the swingman to the Detroit Pistons.

As it stands, the Lakers only have James ($46.9 million), Anthony Davis ($40.6 million) and Max Christie ($1.7 million) under contract for the 2023-24 season. With the salary cap projected to be $134 million, Los Angeles could create upwards of $30 million to $35 million in cap space.

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