Exclusive: Lakers Could Make Trade With Contender for $90 Million Starter

rob pelinka

Getty Los Angeles Lakers GM Rob Pelinka.

The clock is ticking on the Los Angeles Lakers to have a major offseason makeover in order to once again have a chance at winning an NBA championship. The Lakers may look to a title contender in one of several potential moves Los Angeles could make this summer.

During his conversations with league sources, Heavy.com’s NBA insider Sean Deveney received an interesting trade proposal from an Eastern Conference executive. The proposed deal has the Lakers acquiring sharpshooter Duncan Robinson from the Heat in exchange for Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn.

“Obviously, you need a team that is interested in developing Horton-Tucker, but they also need to have a player on their own side they’re okay with giving up on, a guy who has his own warts,” the exec detailed. “That’s the only chance there. Duncan Robinson is a guy who fits that, he has the right salary level, they’re obviously familiar with Kendrick (Nunn), and it might be good for him to get back there. And Robinson has had a disaster year in Miami, they have not played him in the postseason, they would be happy getting off that contract and saving some money.

“The Lakers need shooting very, very badly, they need to be able to stretch the floor. They’ll have the same issue defensively with Robinson, but I think you can accept that if he can get back to his old level of floor-spacing. And the way Miami develops guys, it would be the perfect place for Horton-Tucker to go.”

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Robinson Is a Career 40.6% Three-Point Shooter

After going undrafted in 2018, Robinson found a spot on the Heat roster and later emerged as a three-year starter for one of the NBA’s top franchises. After starting 68 games this season, Robinson has fallen out of favor with head coach Erik Spoelstra often finding himself on the end of the bench during the playoffs.

Robinson is a career 40.6% shooter from long range but his three-point shooting is down to 37.2% this season. Robinson’s numbers have also decreased in nearly every other major statistical category compared to his stats during the 2020-21 season. The Miami wing averaged 10.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists while averaging 25.9 minutes per game during the 2021-22 regular season. By comparison, Robinson notched 13.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 40.8% from the three-point line in 31.4 minutes per contest just a season ago.

Robinson Has Gone From Starting to Not Being a Consistent Part of the Heat Rotation

At times, Spoelstra seems as confused as NBA fans as to why Duncan has not been a part of the regular rotation. During the Heat-Sixers conference semifinal matchup, Spoelstra admitted that it makes some sense for Duncan to get more playing time.

“Sure, I was probably like everybody else right after the game, and I’m looking at the three-point percentages like, ‘Wow, we could have really used him,'” Spoelstra explained during a May 10 press conference. “And this is how fast series can move and can change. We said at the beginning of the series that this is going to take on three or four different lives within the same series.

“I’m not Nostradamus, but it’s playing out that way and it’s all hands on deck, and it could be different guys for different segments. Duncan has kept himself ready. He’s really been on our card, even on all the games that he hasn’t played, he’s right there.”

Duncan’s $90 Million Contract is Problematic for the Lakers

On paper, the trade makes a lot of sense for both teams as both Robinson and Horton-Tucker could both use a fresh start. The challenge for the Lakers is Duncan still has four seasons remaining on his five-year, $90 million contract. The sharpshooter is slated to have a $16.9 million salary, and it is reasonable to ask if this is a prudent move for a player struggling to find minutes in Miami.

Does Duncan transform the Lakers enough to risk taking on his sizable contract for another four years? Duncan would help fill a giant shooting void the Lakers need to address this offseason, but the team will likely be able to find more affordable options. Horton-Tucker is on a cheaper $30 million deal that will be off the books after the 2023-24 season.

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