3-Team Trade Proposal Lands Lakers All-Star Guard & NBA Champion

fred vanvleet

Getty Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet.

The Los Angeles Lakers have remained quiet this offseason, but that changes on June 30 at 6 p.m. ET when free agency begins. The team has a number of key free agents like D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves. There are also a number of star players hitting free agency who could interest the team.

If the Lakers decide against bringing back Russell, they will need a new starting point guard. Toronto Raptors All-Star Fred VanVleet is set to be a free agent after declining his $22.8 player option on June 12. To add VanVleet, Los Angeles would need to put together a sign-and-trade package with the Raptors. In a June 27 column for ESPN, Kevin Pelton pitched a trade package that sends VanVleet to the Lakers, Tyus Jones and Mo Bamba to the Raptors and Malik Beasley would be sent to the Washington Wizards along with the 2030 Lakers first-round pick (top-10 protected, otherwise 2030 Lakers second-round pick).

“In this scenario, the Lakers add VanVleet via a three-team deal that would net Toronto a replacement for the unrestricted free agent and Washington another draft pick stemming from this week’s deal sending Porzingis to the Celtics. Beasley and Jones are close salary matches, allowing the Raptors to reroute him and the protected pick sent by the Lakers to the Wizards,” Pelton wrote.

“The first move for the Lakers is guaranteeing the salaries of Beasley (team option) and Vanderbilt (non-guaranteed through Thursday), allowing them to offer VanVleet a starting salary up to $34.3 million for a competitive contract to what he could get elsewhere. (If necessary, they could up that to $36.7 million by guaranteeing Shaquille Harrison’s minimum salary and including him in the trade.)”

Los Angeles Lakers Would Still Be Able to Fill out Roster

As Kevin Pelton noted, Fred VanVleet should be getting a contract in the $35 million-a-season range. While that’s certainly a hefty sum, it wouldn’t stop the Lakers from making more moves. According to Pelton, the team would still be able to keep some of their top free agents.

“Completing a sign-and-trade deal would hard cap the Lakers at the first luxury tax apron, projected at $172.7 million,” Pelton wrote. “Assuming restricted free agent Austin Reaves makes the largest possible first-year salary ($11.5 million) and they fill out their roster with players making the veterans minimum, that would leave the Lakers about $50 million to spread between VanVleet, Hachimura and using part of their non-taxpayer midlevel exception to re-sign Dennis Schroder and/or Lonnie Walker IV.”

D’Angelo Russell wouldn’t be returning to the Lakers in this scenario, but VanVleet would be an upgrade as he averaged more points (19.3 to 17.8) and assists (7.2 to 6.2) last season.

Rob Pelinka Looking to Retain Keep Key Players From Last Season

The Lakers have been a team that makes splashy moves. In 2018, they signed LeBron James. The following year, they made a blockbuster trade for Anthony Davis. In 2021, they swung a trade for former MVP Russell Westbrook. The team fell short of the NBA Finals last season, but general manager Rob Pelinka isn’t looking to swing for the fences this offseason. He claims that he’s hoping to keep the core intact.

“We want to try our hardest to keep this core of guys together and also improve around the edges and on the margins to not only get back to where we were last year but hopefully take the next step and get into the NBA Finals,” Pelinka said during the June 27 introductory press conference for the team’s 2023 draft picks Indiana guard Jalen Hood-Schifino and Pepperdine forward Maxwell Lewis.