Training camp is always a good time for head coaches to take stock of their current roster and decide if they need a little extra juice before the season gets underway.
For the Los Angeles Lakers, we’re all aware that the only way to add any more punch to their rotation is via a trade, and if a deal was to be made, it would need to ensure a veteran shooter was heading to Tinseltown.
According to a September 30 episode of The Lowe Post podcast with ESPN analyst Zach Lowe, the Indiana Pacers would still be interested in doing a deal that sends Buddy Hield and Myles Turner to Los Angeles, should both of the Lakers’ future picks be put onto the table.
“The one I’ve said I would sleep over if I were a Buss or Mr. Pelinka is trading both picks to the Pacers for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner…My best intel right now is if the Lakers called Indiana right now and said ‘Both picks unprotected,’ the Pacers would do that deal, would probably do that deal,” Lowe said during the podcast.
Adding both Hield and Turner would certainly improve the Lakers’ current rotation, but, that deal has been on the table for most of the summer, so it’s fair to assume that Darvin Ham and Rob Pelinka don’t feel the return is worth the cost of their future draft picks – otherwise, it would already have been done.
Lakers Willing to Trade Picks, if The Deal Makes Sense
There’s no doubt that the Lakers are being shrewd in their trade discussions, as they understand the value of the draft picks at their disposal, and know that making a deal that seems them lose control of two future firsts has to put them in a position to compete for a championship in the immediate future.
On September 30, Marc Stein, who was writing in the latest edition of his Steinline newsletter, details how Los Angeles isn’t against making a trade, but is being prudent in regards to which trade they actually make.
“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. 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 wrote.
It’s worth noting that at this early point in the NBA season, there aren’t any available stars for the Lakers to pursue, so it’s quite likely that we see the franchise bide their time, and potentially look to make a splash around the trade deadline when teams are more willing to enter into trade discussions.
Westbrook Expected to be a Starter This Season
Having failed to find a willing trade partner for Russell Westbrook this summer, the Lakers will head into the new season with the superstar guard in their rotation. And according to a recent report by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, who was speaking on a September 19 episode of NBA Today, Westbrook is expected to be their starting guard.
“From what I understand now, they still see Russell Westbrook as a starter,” Shelburne said. “He’s a former MVP. He’s given that respect. Everyone’s gonna compete for jobs. … Russell Westbrook is the starter there,” Shelburne said.
Keeping Westbrook in the starting lineup makes sense for multiple reasons. First, despite his poor fit with the roster from a skillset perspective, he’s still too good to have to rot away on the bench. Second, allowing him to showcase his skills could encourage other teams to take a chance on him for the remainder of the season, and finally, there’s still a chance Westbrook figures things out in Los Angeles and helps galvanize a struggling Lakers franchise.
Still, if no interest for Westbrook arises, and the Lakers strike out on some of their primary targets later in the season, they can always go back to the negotiating table with the Pacers, but that’s looking increasingly unlikely.