Proposed Lakers Trade Lands $43 Million Former All-Star ‘at a Discount’

Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Darvin Ham, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty LeBron James #23 (C) and Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers only extended the inevitable, falling to the Denver Nuggets in five games in this year’s playoffs rather than the sweep they suffered in last year’s run. Of course, that run was to the Western Conference Finals.

This time, the Lakers are out of the playoff in the first round and seemingly in need of significant changes to the roster to get back to their championship ways.

They are expected to explore several star-level options, and could get one “at a discount.”

[Zach] LaVine won’t be the favorite target for Lakers fans this summer. But if pursuits of Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young and others fail, LaVine could be a lower-cost option instead,” Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz wrote on April 30. “The 29-year-old UCLA product could thrive as a complementary piece to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.”

Swartz suggests this hypothetical package to get a deal done for LaVine:

Lakers get:

– Zach LaVine

Bulls get:

D’Angelo Russell
Gabe Vincent
Jarred Vanderbilt

LaVine is coming off his worst season since the 2017-18 campaign. Then, he appeared in 24 games coming off a torn ACL that cut his previous season short. He is again coming off a season-ending injury. This time a foot injury cost him several games before he was shut down.

The uber-athletic (and Klutch Sports client) LaVine also opted for the surgery amid trade rumors that had the former Slam Dunk champion on his way to the Detroit Pistons.

When healthy, LaVine is good for 25-plus points per game.

Lakers Face Hurdles in Potential Zach LaVine Trade Pursuit

The question for the Lakers would be whether or not he would be worth using up some of their more valuable contracts in terms of salary matching and players other teams might have a use for and value in a trade.

That was not the case for Russell and Vincent this past season when they were viewed as negative assets, per The Athletic’s Jovan Buha on January 19.

LaVine is going into Year 3 of a five-year, $215.1 million contract.

Vanderbilt is starting his four-year, $48 million contract extension and was not trade-eligible this past season. Vincent signed a three-year, $33 million pact in free agency after a strong showing with the Miami Heat in the playoffs the year before.

The Lakers would need Russell to pick up his $18.7 million player option on his two-year, $36 million contract to make the deal work. That could be an issue after his recent comments.

LaVine ($43 million in 2024-25) adds roughly $3 million to the Lakers’ books in this deal.

They would still avoid the second luxury tax apron, though. They would also retain their best assets in terms of players and draft capital with Austin Reaves and their future picks intact in this scenario.

LeBron James Backed Trade for Zach LaVine at Deadline

The biggest hurdle for the Lakers could be getting James on the same page. He left everyone on a cliffhanger about his future. James holds a $51.4 million player option for the second year of his two-year, $99 million pact.

But the expectation is he re-ups with the Lakers in free agency. The Athletic reported on April 30 that the front office is willing to pay up to keep him.

The Lakers superstar also backed the idea of trading for LaVine at this past deadline.

“James has long wanted a star ballhandling sidekick,” The Athletic’s Sam Amick, Anthony Slater, and Jovan Buha wrote on February 14. “James was also in support of the Lakers trading for Dejounte Murray or Zach LaVine — two Klutch Sports clients — in the weeks and months leading into the 2024 trade deadline.”

LaVine won’t solve the Lakers’ perimeter defensive issues. But he operates as effectively off the ball as on, something Russell cannot lay claim to on most nights.

He could be the perfect piece for the Lakers to pursue for the right price.