$71 Million Scorer Floated as Lakers Trade Target: ‘Lightning in a Bottle’

LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Anthony Davis #3 and LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers made it to the Western Conference Finals last season, a run that surprised even rising star Austin Reaves after they started the season 2-10. That slow start could spur them to make some tweaks to avoid a similar beginning to next season.

“It’s … possible the Lakers could wind up needing another point guard, as the stage was seemingly set for a D’Angelo Russell deal when he waived his implied no-trade clause,” wrote Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report on August 28. “L.A. could catch lightning in a bottle with a young, offensive-minded point guard like Anthony or Sexton.”

Sexton, 24, averaged 14.3 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.2 rebounds while shooting 39.3% from deep for the Utah Jazz last season.

More of a scorer than a facilitator, Sexton is in Year 2 of a four-year, $70.9 million contract.

He might also be more amenable to coming off the bench, a move that may be necessary with the Lakers signing Gabe Vincent from the Miami Heat in free agency. Sexton shifted to a similar role with the Jazz last season.

The 6-foot-2 guard was originally selected No. 8 overall in 2018 by the Cleveland Cavaliers with whom he spent the first four years of his career.

Cleveland traded him in a package to Utah for Donovan Mitchell last offseason.

D’Angelo Russell’s Future in Question

Russell, 27, averaged 17.4 points, 6.1 assists, and 2.9 rebounds and connected on 41.4% of his triples in 17 appearances with the Lakers after the trade deadline. But his play tapered off during the postseason with Russell posting a 13.3/4.6/2.9 line while shooting 31.0% from three.

L.A. brought him back on a two-year, $36 million pact in free agency.

However, he waived the no-trade clause he was entitled to under league rules having signed a one-plus-one contract.

“This is a significant development for LA and their flexibility at the trade deadline,” tweeted Jovan Buha of The Athletic on July 10. Under the old rules — and had D’Angelo Russell not waived his veto rights — he would’ve had a say in any trade out of LA.”

Russell has spoken of everyone needing to buy into their roles next season.

It would not be the first time the Lakers traded Russell away, though, having dealt the former No. 2 overall pick (2015) to the Brooklyn Nets for Kyle Kuzma and Brook Lopez in 2017.

Brooklyn traded Russell to the Golden State Warriors for Kevin Durant in 2019, only for Golden State to trade him to the Minnesota Timberwolves less than one year later. L.A. acquired him from Minnesota at the trade deadline.

Lakers Not Afraid of Bold Moves

General manager Rob Pelinka showed he is willing to make bold moves. He pulled the plug on the failed attempt to fit Russell Westbrook with stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis at the deadline, keying an 18-8 run to the postseason.

“A roster turnover that began at the trade deadline only got better this summer as the Lakers retained a lot of their key players,” wrote Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz on August 19. “Adding Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish, Jaxson Hayes and re-signing D’Angelo Russell made for a terrific offseason overall and helped vindicate Pelinka after his prior mistakes.”

Landing Sexton could be complicated if Russell is not a part of the deal.

He could be an intriguing option for the Lakers, though, if they do decide to flip Russell ahead of the deadline.