Lakers’ ‘Hedge’ Trade Signals Shift in NBA Market: Execs

Russell Westbrook (left) and Patrick Beverley

Getty Russell Westbrook (left) and Patrick Beverley

Now what?

Now that grand prize Kevin Durant is allegedly off the market, will business return to “as usual?” Will the clubs that were hoping for a big score — or to maybe catch a falling star from the residue of a larger deal — set more realistic goals?

Most likely. And the Lakers’ trade for Patrick Beverley is seen as just a start to player movement that could be seen as minor-to-middling in nature but could yield important results in a club’s rotation.

Start with L.A., which made the first and maybe only big move for the team, beyond filling their 14th roster spot at some point. It’s looking like the Lakers may just ride into training camp without a larger move and see in the first few weeks what effect new coach Darvin Ham will have on the chemistry.

“I think getting Pat Bev is good for them from a couple of standpoints,” said a GM. “It makes them tougher and it’s a hedge on (Russell) Westbrook. I know they didn’t want to give up two first round picks to get off of Westbrook. But I think they would give two first-round picks if Russell Westbrook went away and they got somebody good back.”

‘We’ll See Some Things’

With Durant’s stranglehold on the market now gone, expect more by way of transactions.

“I think we’ll see some things,” one league executive told Heavy Sports. “I don’t think L.A. thought it had a chance at Durant, but they had to see how that played out. You had to be on the whole ‘Let’s keep hope alive for the possibility of being involved in this,’ thing. Teams have been like, ‘Something may fall to us if a deal for KD gets expanded to include other teams.’ But now I think teams return to sanity and say, ‘OK, what do we need to do?'”

After Durant had reportedly named Miami as one of his preferred destinations, the Heat, without the means to get KD in a direct deal and still have enough left to compete for a title, had to be hoping they could land him in some creative multi-team maneuver.

Now they can focus more fully on finding quality size to replace departed free agent P.J. Tucker, whose move to Philadelphia makes Miami’s Eastern Conference path all the more potholed.

Some Movement Coming … But Not a Lot

But one source told Heavy that teams began to realize weeks ago that a Durant deal was doubtful and have been tending to more mundane pursuits.

“I think there were some things that were being held up as teams waited to see what would happen with Brooklyn,” he said. “But most of the other big things have been done. There’s probably a handful of secondary things that could be out there, but I don’t think it’s a huge amount and that the Durant situation was holding up the business of the league. The Kyrie (Irving) situation, too.

“I think you would have seen some residual things happen if a Durant trade went through, but it’d probably would have been second-level stuff. Then again, you never know what can happen when teams are talking to each other. We’ve seen some big trades happen late in the summer or even early in the season, but not many.”

He continued, “I think the next window is going to be when you have all the guys who signed contracts this year become tradeable in December, and that’s probably just a few things. It’s not like the start of free agency when you have a lot of things being held. For right now, you have what the Lakers are doing, and I think that was probably hinging a little bit on what happened with KD — which was nothing.”



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