Insider Warns Lakers Over Potential Trade for $215 Million Star

Darvin Ham, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Head coach Darvin Ham of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ 127-125 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on December 12 is sure to turn up the volume on Lakers trade rumors.

They may want to think twice about a target in one of the most popular rumors, though.

[Zach] LaVine sounds ideal next to LeBron [James] because he can shoot,” wrote Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic on December 12. “But put LaVine on the Lakers, stash him in the corner and see how that goes. What we might think is good for LaVine and what LaVine might want for LaVine could be vastly different.”

There is a long-standing charge that star-level players who team up with James are often reduced to being off-ball players. LaVine is typically one of the more efficient players in the league, be it on or off the ball.

But his recent tenure in Chicago has featured clashes with head coach Billy Donovan over his role and reports of locker room turmoil.

LaVine also has a history of knee injuries.

They include a torn ACL in 2017 and an arthroscopic procedure ahead of the 2022-23 season that slowed him to start the campaign. He is currently out another three-plus weeks dealing with foot inflammation and was not playing up to his usual standards before that.

Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported on November 28 that the Lakers’ interest in LaVine is “real.” But he added that they would prefer to land Bulls stars Alex Caruso and/or DeMar DeRozan in a trade instead. Caruso also comes with an extensive injury history.

NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson presented a scenario in which the Bulls could have to include Caruso in a package to trade LaVine.

The latter’s five-year, $215 million contract has led to limited interest.

A deal involving Caruso could be a long shot because he should fetch a hefty enough sum in a package by himself. But there could be a pathway for the Lakers to secure two of their top three trade targets and not have to surrender any additional draft capital to do it. That doesn’t mean the price wouldn’t be quite steep, though.

Zach LaVine an ‘Obvious’ Trade Target for Lakers

“When you mention who the Lakers are targeting, the obvious target is Zach LaVine,” Yossi Gozlan said on “The HoopsHype Podcast” on December 12. “I saw reports that the Bulls are interested in Austin Reaves, but the Lakers wouldn’t do that.”

Los Angeles re-signed Reaves on a four-year, $53.8 million contract this past offseason. He got off to a rocky start as the starting point guard but has come around in a sixth-man role.

But Caruso is the “one that got away,” per Buha. Would LA go all-in for him in a package?

“They definitely need a point-of-attack defender like Caruso to defend some of the better ball-dominant players in the league,” Gozlan argued.

Caruso is also on a bargain three-year, $36.9 million contract.

Laker Practicing Patience in Trade Market

Whether by choice or by circumstance, the Lakers are in no rush to make a move. They had won 12 of their last 16 games coming into their December 12 contest, though this latest loss against a short-handed Mavs team may alter that thinking some considering the efforts wasted.

LaVine may not be the Lakers’ top choice. But he is among them. And, if they can get him at a discount, it makes all the more sense to pursue a trade. Including Reaves to land Caruso is another conversation and, in some ways, a lateral move given their following among the fan base and faith in them within the organization.