The move, proposed by Alex Kirschenbaum Sports Illustrated “All Lakers” page, would send Russell Westbrook, a first-round pick and two second-round picks to Philly in exchange for Harris and sharpshooter Furkan Korkmaz.
“Adding Harris to the Lakers front line would give the team a two-way floor-spreader at the three or four spot (he could play either position next to LeBron James),” Kirschenbaum wrote.
He added: “Though a bit overpaid, Harris is pretty darn good for what he could give the Lakers as the club’s third scoring option capable of taking on the defensive assignments James just can’t handle at his advanced age. Korkmaz, basically a throw-in to match Westbrook’s salary, gives the point guard-heavy Lakers more size as a 6’7″ shooting guard with solid three-point ability.”
Lakers Eyeing Deals for Long-Term Success
The Lakers would have to be really convinced that Harris would be a good fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, not only for this season but also next, seeing as he’s under contract for $39.27 million. The Lakers would also give up one of their valuable first-round picks, cutting down what they could do down as they look to bolster the roster.
What Harris does bring is some experience being the third option, finding ways to contribute playing alongside James Harden and Joel Embiid with the Sixers. Harris is a solid two-way player, averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He’s also hitting his 3-pointers at a 37.4% clip this season, which would be a bonus for the inconsistent shooting Lakers.
Korkmaz would help in that regard as well as a 35.4% shooter from deep over his career.
But neither player would fulfill what the Lakers are looking for in terms of long-term gains. Harris is 30 and has some injury issues, which is the last thing LA wants to deal with after their recent seasons that have been defined by missed time. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin made it clear that the Lakers are staying patient as they evaluate their options.
“If the right deal emerges that will make them — in their eyes — a better team over the next, like, three years, that’s their priority,” McMenamin said on an episode of “That’s OD.” “They want the team to get to the best level it can get while LeBron James is still on the roster. But if that means not making that deal in February and playing out the rest of this season with the group that they have and knowing that they feel like there’s gonna be a better deal in July in the offseason, they’ll do that.”
LeBron James Putting Pressure on Lakers to Make Move
James has made it clear that he’s not content playing below-.500 basketball, with the 38-year-old wanting to capitalize on the final stretch of his career.
“I’m a winner and I want to win,” James told reporters on December 28. “And I want to win and give myself a chance to win and still compete for championships. That has always been my passion, that has always been my goal since I entered the league as an 18-year-old kid out of Akron, Ohio.
“I don’t wanna finish my career playing at this level from a team aspect. I still want to compete for championships. I know what I can bring to any ball club with the right pieces.”
James’ public comments sparked a five-game winning streak by the Lakers but they’ve now dropped three straight after climbing back into playoff contention. But James has not taken his foot off the gas, continuing to produce at an MVP level. He’s averaged 32.8 points, 10 rebounds and 8.4 assists since the New Year.