Lakers in Serious Trade Talks for $96 Million Scorer: Report

rob pelinka

Getty Los Angeles Lakers GM Rob Pelinka.

The Los Angeles Lakers continue to explore ways to improve their roster and the urgency is on the rise given the team’s 0-3 start to the season. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Lakers held trade discussions with the Hornets this offseason centered around guard Terry Rozier as part of a multi-team blockbuster deal. Los Angeles was unable to make a trade happen, but the Lakers still have a “high” interest in acquiring Rozier, per Charania.

“Charlotte’s Terry Rozier emerged as a trade target for the Lakers in the offseason and their interest in him remains high, multiple sources tell The Athletic,” Charania wrote on October 24, 2022. “The Lakers and Hornets held discussions about a possible three- or four-team trade during the summer, and hold him in high regard among their possible trade possibilities, but the dynamic Hornets guard’s availability will be entirely predicated on the franchise’s direction for the future and its play as the season goes on. Despite LaMelo Ball being sidelined with a Grade 2 ankle sprain and Rozier recently suffering his own sprained ankle, the Hornets and coach Steve Clifford are off to a 2-1 start in the Eastern Conference.”

Rozier Is at the Beginning of a 4-Year, $96.2 Million Contract

Rozier would give the Lakers a legitimate third scoring option to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. More importantly, it would likely end the Russell Westbrook era in L.A., which would be a bit of addition by subtraction regardless of who the Lakers are able to acquire in return.

Rozier is off to a hot start to the season averaging 23.5 points, 8.5 assists, seven rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 40% from long range during the first two contests. The veteran guard has averaged 18 or more points in three straight seasons. Rozier posted 19.3 points, 4.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game during 73 starts in 2021-22.

Trading for Rozier would represent a major long-term commitment by the Lakers as the guard is beginning a four-year, $96.2 million contract that runs through the 2025-26 season. Westbrook’s bloated $47 million salary at least comes off the books after this season.

If the Lakers acquired Rozier, it would prevent Los Angeles from adding a significant piece during the 2023 free agency. Rozier’s $21.4 million salary means Charlotte would need to add more players to the deal if Westbrook is involved.

The Lakers Could Benefit From Tanking Teams

At this point, the Lakers’ best hope in moving Westbrook is potentially a tanking team looking to clear cap space ahead of the trade deadline. Charania reported that the Lakers are hoping for “several more trade avenues” regarding Westbrook as teams look to tank for a chance to land Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson in the 2023 NBA draft. The sticking point in preventing potential trades has been the Lakers reluctance to include both of their future 2027 and 2029 first-round picks.

“In a perfect world, the Lakers had hoped Westbrook would find a complimentary role in Ham’s system, but as sources have told The Athletic over the past month, the organization planned to keep an open mind with trade opportunities to improve the team,” Charania noted. “Potential trade partners across the league have wanted one or two unprotected first-rounders from the Lakers in all deal frameworks, which creates a battle over price and value.

“Several more trade avenues are expected to open as the season goes on, as teams fall out of the postseason race and turn their attention toward top prospects Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson.”