Lakers Trade Pitch Nets $114 Million Star, Keeps Austin Reaves in L.A.

Lakers' LeBron James against Dejounte Murray

Getty LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to drive against Dejounte Murray #5 of the Atlanta Hawks.

The Los Angeles Lakers find ways to make headlines, even during an NBA Finals in which they aren’t playing. Right now, it’s their coaching search. But very soon, it’ll be about their offseason personnel moves.

With LeBron James barreling toward age 40 and one of the weaker drafts in recent years on the horizon, the Lakers will need to turn to free agency and/or the trade market to improve the roster. Another star around James and Anthony Davis is an ideal outcome, but that player has to be a perfect fit if he’s going to vault L.A. into a position of legitimate competitiveness with the top teams in a loaded Western Conference.

Bill Simmons of The Ringer suggested a trade pitch that would allow the Lakers to acquire Dejounte Murray from the Atlanta Hawks, a team most analysts believe is likely to trade either Murray or Trae Young this summer.

“Doesn’t it make more sense for them to trade for Murray? Isn’t the price less? It’s a cheaper contract, ” Simmons said on the Monday, June 10 edition his self-titled podcast. “They could put the [Gabe Vincent and Jarred Vanderbilt] contracts together. Their pick this year, they could draft a guy and then send him after. Their [2029] first-rounder, and they can do a swap in [2028] for Murray and be done with it — and keep the [2031 first-round pick] but not give up quite as much and get a guy on a cheaper deal.”

Dejounte Murray Developing Into Perfect Fit With Lakers

Dejounte Murray Trae Young

GettyAtlanta Hawks guards Dejounte Murray (left) and Trae Young (right).

Murray was an All-Star during his final year with the San Antonio Spurs in 2021-22 before they traded him to Atlanta, where he has averaged north of 20 points per game in each of the past two seasons. He will play next year at the age of 28.

He has produced 21.5 points, 6.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1,5 steals per game across 36 minutes of court time each night. His 3-point percentage and frequency are also on the rise. Murray shot 34.4% on 5.2 attempts per game two years ago, upping those figures to 36.3% on 7.1 attempts in 2023-24, according to Basketball Reference.

A combo guard who can hit 3s in volume, puts up over 20 each night and defends the perimeter well at 6-feet-5 (Murray made Second-Team All-Defense after his second year) would certainly be a fit with James and Davis. The fact that he’s relatively affordable considering his star status also makes Murray an attractive option.

In 2024-25, Murray will begin playing on a four-year contract that pays him $114 million total. He won’t carry a salary cap hit above $30 million until the final year of that contract, which is a player option he figures to decline considering how underpaid he is relative to the NBA’s current salary scale — and that’s before the expected cap spike following the next television rights deals that kick in following next season.

Keeping Austin Reaves Crucial for Lakers in Any Trade

Austin Reaves

GettyAustin Reaves of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Perhaps even more important than Murray’s fit with the roster, both as a player and as an incoming salary, is that the Lakers would hold onto Austin Reaves in Simmons’ scenario.

Los Angeles signed Reaves to an attractive four-year deal worth just $54 million, which will keep him with the team for at least the next two campaigns at a more than reasonable number. The final year of Reaves’ contract is a player option in 2026-27.

Reaves was a crucial part of the Lakers’ run to the Western Conference Finals two years ago as probably the third-best player on the team. He was also a vital cog in the system last season, averaging nearly 16 points and 5.5 assists per night and appearing in all 82 games.

Any team talking star-level trades with L.A. this summer is liable to want Reaves back in the deal, but Simmons believes his presence is crucial if the Lakers hope to achieve real success.

“I’m not trading Reaves to get a third star, because I feel like I need four stars — not that Reaves is even a full star — but I think I need three stars plus Reaves to even think about competing with the top four in the West,” Simmons continued. “If Reaves is in the trade, I don’t see how there’s an upgrade when we’re in that Murray/Trae kind of class of guys. I don’t see how that works for them.”

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