With LeBron James committing to the Los Angeles Lakers through the 2024-25 season, the pressure is on general manager Rob Pelinka not to waste what could be the final NBA seasons of the superstar’s career. The Lakers are still looking for a trade partner for Russell Westbrook, and ESPN’s Tim Bontemps believe the Jazz make a lot of sense, especially if they move on from Donovan Mitchell.
The analyst’s proposal has the Lakers landing Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Patrick Beverley and Jordan Clarkson. Los Angeles would send Utah a combination of Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker and two future first-round picks.
“If I’m the Lakers, I’m looking at the Jazz roster and I’m thinking, ‘Hmm, they got Mike Conley, got Bojan Bogdanovic, got Jordan Clarkson, got Patrick Beverley,'” Bontemps explained during an August 19, 2022 edition of “The Hoop Collective” podcast. “They could get all four of those guys with THT and Russ. …If I’m the Lakers, I’m looking at those four guys and thinking those are the kind of guys that, to go back to our earlier conversation, if the Lakers could get them, they could really be in some business in terms of being competitive.”
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Conley Made His First All-Star Team in 2021
After making his debut All-Star appearance in 2021, Conley had an inconsistent 2021-22 campaign averaging 13.7 points, 5.3 assists, three rebounds and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 40.8% from long range during his 72 starts. Despite Conley coming off a less than ideal season, the veteran guard is still a better shooter and overall facilitator than Westbrook at this stage of his career.
Westbrook’s $47 million salary is sizable, but the contract at least comes off the books next offseason. Conley still has two seasons remaining on his three-year, $68 million contract. The team does have a bit of flexibility next offseason as $14.3 million only becomes guaranteed after the 2023 draft, per Spotrac.
Bogdanovic is another obvious fit for the Lakers as the sharpshooter averaged 18.1 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 38.7% from long range. Both players help address the Lakers’ massive void of shooting on the current roster.
The Lakers also get two valuable role players as part of the proposed deal in Clarkson and Beverley, a longtime nemesis of James. Clarkson has become an integral part of the Jazz averaging 16 points and 3.5 rebounds during his 79 appearances in 2021-22.
Lakers Are Willing to Trade 2 First-Round Picks to Land Kyrie: Report
Bontemps and ESPN co-host Brian Windhorst debated whether the Lakers would need to include multiple future first-round picks for this hypothetical Jazz trade to have a chance of happening. NBA insider Marc Stein reported that while the Lakers were unwilling to move both picks in the proposed Pacers deal centered around Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, the team would include these selections if it meant landing Kyrie Irving. Stein noted that the Lakers have assured James the team will trade these future draft picks for the right deal.
“L.A. has nonetheless pledged to James that it will indeed continue to aggressively pursue upgrades,” Stein wrote on August 18. “League sources say James, in fact, has been assured that the Lakers are willing to trade both of their available future first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 if a trade that costs them both picks can realistically position the Lakers to return to contender status.
“…Yet sources say that the prospect of acquiring a focused Irving, or a similarly splashy acquisition, does still hold that kind of appeal to the Lakers even at the costly price. Sources confirm that they would be willing to surrender both firsts in tandem with Westbrook’s $47.1 million expiring contract to acquire Irving (although it’s unclear if the picks would be unprotected or protected).”