Insider Floats 5 Potential Trade Partners as Lakers Eye ‘Fire Sale’ Teams

Darvin Ham, Rob Pelinka, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Head coach Darvin Ham (L) and vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers are surely focused on their In-Season Tournament quarterfinal matchup against the Phoenix Suns on December 5. But the front office has to keep an eye on the future too.

They just don’t have to rush to make anything happen.

“The Lakers plan to take a patient approach to the trade market,” wrote Jovan Buha of The Athletic on December 2. “They’re still evaluating their needs and will continue to monitor the league, including potential fire sales in Toronto, Washington, Utah, Brooklyn and/or Charlotte that could make useful rotation players available.”

Several Lakers players are ineligible for a trade until December 15 and even January 15. That potentially puts a damper on any trade plans.

“There’s always a chance they strike a move before the February deadline — similar to acquiring Hachimura a couple of weeks before last season’s,” Buha continued. “But a trade is far more likely to come later in the trading window than sooner.”

Buha has previously reported on the Lakers’ interest in Chicago Bulls’ stars Alex Caruso, DeMar DeRozan, and Zach LaVine. Caruso is said to be of particular interest given his championship history with the Lakers. But which players on the teams Buha mentioned could the Lakers target if and when the time comes?

Targets on Top Potential ‘Fire Sale’ Teams

Of the teams Buha listed, only the Brooklyn Nets (10-9) have a winning record ahead of the IST quarterfinal rounds. Nets swingman Mikal Bridges would be hight sought after if he ever became available, though it is unclear if the Lakers have the assets to win the bidding war that would ensure upon his being made available.

Aside from Bridges, whom the Nets view as a building block, the Nets also have veterans Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale.

Both players fit the profile of 3-and-D that this Lakers squad needs. Finney-Smith is averaging 11.0 points and shooting 45.4% from beyond the arc this season while O’Neale is averaging 8.2 points and connecting on 40.5% of his deep looks.

They would cost less than $24.5 million combined this season.

That means the Lakers could include just one of their premium trade pieces — i.e. D’Angelo Russell or Rui Hachimura — and have ammo left to make further tweaks if needed. The cost to acquire them could be too high, though with Brooklyn eyeing at least one first-round pick for each player and an unclear direction even before making any trades.

The Utah Jazz is the only team Buha named that resides in the Western Conference. They are also lighter on the wing-type players the Nets have.

What they do have is a plethora of guards, including former Laker Jordan Clarkson.

With the Lakers finding success with the likes of Taurean Prince and Cam Reddish at different points of the season, perhaps they look to reinforce a backcourt that already has Russell, Austin Reaves, and Gabe Vincent.

Other potential options include Collin Sexton or big men John Collins, Lauri Markkanen, and Kelly Olynyk, though their fits are questionable.

Toronto is a notoriously scrappy group and was in the mix for a playoff spot last season until losing in the first round of the Play-In Tournament. They are just two games below .500 this season so their standing as a potential “fire sale” team is dubious. But they do offer a host of potential trade targets that could interest the Lakers.

Pascal Siakam might seem like an obvious target. He is in the final year of his contract and would bring a diverse skill set on both sides of the ball. But he is also a career 32.1% three-point shooter, including 19.8% this season.

The Lakers could look to acquire Gary Trent Jr. if they are looking to add shooting. He is a 38.3% shooter connecting on 36.4% of his deep looks in a relatively down season.

OG Anunoby might be the ideal target, especially with Scottie Barnes presumably still off-limits.

Anunoby can play 2-4 on both ends. But, like Bridges, the bidding war could be intense if he’s made available. Dennis Schroder could be an option. If the Lakers include Vincent in any flip, they would need another guard. And Schroder is familiar with the team having played for the Lakers last season.

Lakers Could Poach Near-Bottom Feeders

Charlotte and Washington are the second and fourth-worst teams in the Eastern Conference in terms of their record. The latter’s roster includes former Laker Kyle Kuzma. He would make more sense than Jordan Poole whose gunning ways might not mesh well with LeBron James.

Danilo Gallinari and Delon Wright are also options that fit better on paper with what the Lakers could have left on the roster following a potential trade than Tyus Jones.

Charlotte Hornets veterans Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier could be available.

Hayward’s fit is arguably better with the current Lakers roster while Rozier has been the healthier player. Neither would come cheap with salaries over $23 million apiece. Big man PJ Washington could be an interesting trade target. He just re-signed this past offseason. But, with a new ownership group coming in, the opportunity for the Lakers to make a move could arise.