West Rival Could Steal NBA Champion Trade Target from Lakers

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

If the Los Angeles Lakers have a genuine interest in trading for Toronto Raptors star guard Fred VanVleet, they may want to move quickly.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Phoenix Suns have emerged as a potential destination for the Raptors guard should he become available, while the Orlando Magic have also registered their interest.

“The Suns and Magic have emerged as potential free-agent suitors for All-Star guard VanVleet, league sources say,” Charania wrote.

The Raptors are currently 11th in the Eastern Conference after a difficult first half of the season, and are rumored to be potential sellers at the trade deadline as they look to rebuild their rotation around Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Scottie Barnes.

VanVleet has participated in 37 games so far this season, providing the Raptors with 18.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game while shooting 38.4% from the field and 33.4% from deep.

Proposed Trade Sees Lakers Swap Patrick Beverley

According to Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale, the Lakers could acquire VanVleet in a package built around defensive guard Patrick Beverley, who has struggled since joining the Lakers during the summer.

“The Lakers may not want to mortgage so much of their future with Anthony Davis injured, but Peak Fred VanVleet keeps Los Angeles’ playoff hopes alive without him. And a full-strength Lakers team becomes exponentially more lethal with FVV alongside AD and LeBron James…The Lakers can send out the expiring of Kendrick Nunn and Patrick Beverley to make the math work. They can also expand the deal to include swaps in 2026 and 2028 and see whether that gets the Raptors to send out Gary Trent Jr. while taking on the final few months of Russell Westbrook’s deal,” Favale wrote.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, should the Raptors decide to move on from VanVleet, there will be other interested parties who can potentially offer more in a trade, meaning they could miss out on a legitimate difference-maker.

Lakers Unlikely To Trade Future Draft Picks

In a recent discussion with a Western Conference executive, who spoke with Heavy On Sports’ Sean Deveney under the condition of anonymity, it would appear that Jeanie Buss would prefer the Lakers to stand pat until the off-season before looking to revamp their current roster.

“They have come this far without trading the two picks (in 2027 and 2029) away, and it is going to be very hard to move Westbrook without putting one of those picks into the deal. You’ve got a lot of the organization saying, ‘We should trade picks and win now,’ but some in the organization are saying, ‘Do not sell out the future.’ And Jeanie Buss is with the second group, and that is what matters most,” The executive said

Regardless of which direction the Lakers decide to go in, they will need to ensure that both LeBron James and Anthony Davis are on board with their plan. Otherwise, their issues could get worse before they begin to get better, especially if LeBron decides to request a trade in the off-season. Luckily, that is expected to be unlikely.

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