Lakers Could Strike Trade for New $51 Million Starter

Malik Beasley

Getty LA Lakers veteran Malik Beasley could be a trade candidate this offseason.

The Los Angeles Lakers are largely expected to focus on re-signing their own free agents, but the team would be wise to pursue additional veterans to bolster their roster. One name to watch is Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. who has a player option that would allow him to become a free agent this offseason.

Trent also has the option to play out the final season of his three-year, $51.8 million contract and is slated to have an $18.5 million salary for 2023-24. If Trent exercises his player option, the solid long-range shooter could be a target for Los Angeles. Bleacher Report suggests a sign-and-trade that has the Lakers landing Trent in exchange for Malik Beasley, the No. 17 selection and some smaller pieces.

“Targeting a higher-end shooter who can disrupt on defense, even if he over-gambles, via sign-and-trade is aggressive enough,” Bleacher Report detailed on May 27. “The Lakers should have the wiggle room to fit Hachimura, Reaves and Gary Trent Jr. under the hard cap. D’Angelo Russell is a different story. He’ll probably have to land in the $20 million-per-year range to make it feasible.

“Trent’s next salary will be a deciding factor, as well. The Lakers shouldn’t have any major issues cobbling together the assets necessary if he’s leaving Toronto anyway. Malik Beasley’s expiring contract plus the No. 17 pick is a good place to start—if not finish.”

NBA Rumors: Raptors Guard Gary Trent Jr. Could Command $20 Million Annually in Free Agency

Trent represents a solid potential third offensive option alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Raptors wing averaged 17.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 36.9% from three-point land in 66 appearances this past season. The question the Lakers will need to answer is what Trent will be able to command on the open market assuming the veteran becomes a free agent.

SportsNet Canada’s Michael Grange reported on February 1 that league sources project Trent to land an average annual salary of $20 million on his next deal if the guard opts out. This would be a slight raise for Trent but is not an outlandish option for Los Angeles if they are able to orchestrate a sign-and-trade.

“According to league sources, Trent could expect a deal in the $20-million range if he opts out of the last year of his contract, which is set to pay him $18.8 million next season,” Grange wrote prior to the 2023 NBA trade deadline. “In other words, the idea of a Jordan Poole or Tyler Herro-like payday – two young scorers with comparable statistical profiles as Trent Jr. who scored extensions with their own teams in the $30-million per season range — may not be readily available in free agency.”

Lakers Rumors: D’Angelo Russell Faces an Uncertain Future in Los Angeles

The Lakers’ interest in Trent and other veteran additions likely depends on how Los Angeles handles D’Angelo Russell’s future. Russell will hit free agency, and all indications are Los Angeles will place a higher priority on retaining Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported that the Lakers will not offer Russell the maximum amount of a two-year, $67.5 million contract extension.

“Russell is eligible to sign a two-year, $67.5 million extension by June 30, which the Lakers will not pursue at the max number, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN,” McMenamin detailed on May 26.

“And the market could be flat for the 27-year-old Russell, as the teams with that type of cap space this summer — Houston, San Antonio, Utah, Orlando, Oklahoma City, Detroit and Indiana — are either still in rebuild mode or already filled at the position.”

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