Proposed Lakers Trade Goes All-In for $91 Million Rising Star

Rob Pelinka, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Rob Pelinka, vice president of basketball operations and general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers might want to consider going all-in in hopes of acquiring Brooklyn Nets swingman Mikal Bridges in a trade. This is despite word from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Nets aren’t looking to move him.

“I believe Brooklyn’s intent remains to build and add talent around Mikal Bridges,” Wojnarowski said in a post on Threads on January 3.

The Nets, like the Lakers, have hit a bit of a rough patch.

They have lost five straight and 10 of their last 12 outings. At 15-20 on the season and ninth in the Eastern Conference Standings, they are still on track for the Play-In Tournament. That could mean they lean into their insistence on keeping the 27-year-old Bridges.

However, not everyone is fully convinced that is the case even now.

“This could be true,” wrote Kurt Helin of NBC Sports on January 3. “It’s also what the Nets would leak if they were trying to up offers on Bridges.”

Lakers get:

– Mikal Bridges

Nets get:

Austin Reaves
Jalen Hood-Schifino
Max Christie
– 2029 first-round pick
– 2031 first-round pick
– 2030 first-round pick swap

The Lakers should try to keep one of Hood-Schifino, the No. 17 overall pick of this past draft, or Christie out of the deal if possible. They also might not want to quibble much if Brooklyn insists on the inclusion of both prospects.

‘Smart Money’ Against Mikal Bridges Trade to Lakers

Bridges is averaging 20.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists this season. His scoring is down from the 26.1 points he averaged across his 27 appearances with the Nets last season. His 56.2% true shooting mark is also the second lowest of his career.

But his rebounds and assists are up as the Nets have found other scoring options.

And Bridges is on a relatively team-friendly deal – considering he is flirting with his first All-Star selection this season – in the second year of a four-year, $90.9 million contract.

“That said, the smart money is on Bridges being a Net come March,” said Helin.

The Nets turned down an offer of four first-round picks from the Memphis Grizzlies when the former first acquired Bridges at the trade deadline last season.

There would also be no shortage of suitors for the 6-foot-6 former Phoenix Sun should he be made available. That’s why the Lakers would likely need to pull out all the stops to pry him loose from the Nets.

Darvin Ham ‘Doesn’t Rock’ With Austin Reaves

Reaves has been mentioned as a player that teams interested in trading with the Lakers would want. The Lakers, for their part, have had no interest in including Reaves in any trades after re-signing him to a four-year, $53.8 million contract this past offseason.

“I’ve heard it very clearly that, for whatever reason, Ham just doesn’t mess with Austin in the way that you would think he would,” said Anthony Irwin on the “Lakers Lounge” podcast on December 29. “It needs to get fixed. And this might escalate all the way to where an agent gets involved or the front office gets involved.”

The issue, per Irwin, stems from Reaves’ playing time which Ham said he wanted to keep under 30 minutes per game.

Reaves also disagreed with the Lakers’ injuries being an acceptable explanation for their loss to a short-handed Miami Heat team. Ham had pushed the idea that the Lakers’ absences were more impactful than that of Heat star Jimmy Butler. Miami was also missing Kyle Lowry.

It has all left Ham on shaky ground, per Buha and Shams Charania of The Athletic on January 4.

If the head coach wins that power struggle, perhaps the Lakers get desperate enough to include Reaves in an all-in push to acquire someone like Bridges to maximize their title push.