Lakers News: Chatter Of Three-Team Donovan Mitchell Trade Involving L.A. Was Overblown

The team still appears reticent to throw in its coveted first-round picks in a deal.

Apparently, your Los Angeles Lakers ultimately did not get involved in three-team trade talks to be potential facilitators in a potential deal that would send Donovan Mitchell to the New York Knicks — and oodles of draft capital to the Utah Jazz. Ultimately, Utah opted for a simpler two-team exchange with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Brian Windhorst of ESPN revealed on his podcast The Hoop Collective that, though other three-team deals were on the table, none involved Los Angeles. In the days leading up to the Mitchell exchange, rumors had emerged that L.A. could get involved.

“There were three-team constructions between the Jazz and Knicks for Donovan Mitchell where players would go to a third team,” Windhorst said (hat tip to Basketball GM for the transcription). “They obviously didn’t do a deal, but the Lakers were never directly involved with that.”

In addition to a boatload of future draft equity, the Knicks also have some intriguing veterans on expiring deals that could have worked well with the Lakers.

Windhorst adds that the Lakers continue to be extremely hesitant to move on from their 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks. Though this caution makes sense in a vacuum, given how many of their draft picks they have traded away to acquire Anthony Davis and Westbrook, it would be a mistake to not try to improve the current roster this season. The Jazz still have veteran assets that could be a fit for L.A. (particularly Malik Beasley and Bojan Bogdanovic), as do the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers. LeBron James will turn 38 in his 20th NBA season this year, and he has more mileage on him, in terms of regular season and playoff minutes, than anyone in the history of the league not named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

This is the definition of a win-now team. Pretending that keeping Russell Westbrook is going to help the club when they’ve already acquired a significant upgrade at his position is pretty darn silly.

Retaining Westbrook and hoping to add, say, mercurial and injury-prone Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving in free agency next summer seems awfully risky. Should the Pacers be open to it, a deal that sends them Westbrook and both picks (perhaps with protections on at least one) in exchange for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner would make sense for all parties involved. Keeping Westbrook for the duration of the upcoming season would be a grave mistake.

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