Lakers Rumors: Utah, L.A. Still Considering Trade?

Will Danny Ainge send even more vets to the Lakers?

It would appear that talk of the death of a second potential Los Angeles Lakers-Utah Jazz trade this summer has been greatly exaggerated.

View the original article to see embedded media.

Tony Jones of The Athletic reported yesterday that Utah Jazz and Lakers were still discussing a potential trade, though he also cautioned that the Jazz “at this point don’t appear to be particularly close” to finalizing a deal.

Given the pieces still on the Lakers’ roster, it seems probable that frustrating point guard Russell Westbrook’s egregious $47.1 million would be the main player Los Angeles would want to offload. By far the most intriguing veteran player on the Jazz who doesn’t seem to fit their rebuilding timeline is power forward Bojan Bogdanovic. Because his contract (worth between $19.3-$19.6 million depending on various incentives) is still just a fraction of Westbrook’s, Utah would need to package $22.6 million in other outgoing contracts into the deal to stay beneath the NBA’s luxury tax threshold. Jazz vets like Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Rudy Gay, and Jordan Clarkson all make sense for Los Angeles to varying degrees.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer previously indicated last weekend that the two sides were apparently still somewhat apart in terms of the framework of an exchange. The Los Angeles front office, led by team president Rob Pelinka, still seems to be reticent to surrender both its 2027 and 2029 first-round picks. Fischer cautioned that the Lakers brain trust appears to be amenable to offloading one of those picks, plus a future pick swap, which seems fairly reasonable.

Utah team president Danny Ainge has driven a hard bargain in his two biggest deals this summer. The Minnesota Timberwolves generously overpaid for All-Star ex-Jazzman Rudy Gobert sending out a few vets, but more importantly for Ainge, an exorbitant package of tantalizing youth: 2022 first-rounder Walker Kessler, three unprotected first-round picks in 2023, 2025, and 2027, a top-five protected 2029 first-round selection, and a first-round pick swap in 2026.

In exchange for All-Star Utah shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, the Cleveland Cavaliers shipped out 2022 lottery pick Ochai Agbaji, three unprotected first-round draft picks, and two future pick swaps.

The Jazz made more modest deals for two other vets, sending veteran forward Royce O’Neale to the Brooklyn Nets for a 2023 first-round pick, which Utah probably expects to be well out of the lottery, given Brooklyn’s talent level. Of course, on the Lakers side of things, L.A. didn’t even have to surrender a pick in its Patrick Beverley trade with the Jazz, merely underwhelming wing Talen Horton-Tucker and bench power forward Stanley Johnson.

If Jazz refuses to accept anything less than two first-rounders, L.A. should not just give up. There are a handful of other clubs with decent assets looking to bottom out who could be on the prowl for future draft equity.

Beyond the Jazz deal, L.A. should strive to pry away Myles Turner and Buddy Hield from Indiana, or Jakob Poeltl, Doug McDermott plus additional salary-matching contracts from San Antonio. The Charlotte Hornets, should they decide to surrender on the season also have some assets that could make them a fit (particularly the remaining two years and $61.6 million on Gordon Hayward’s deal, if Charlotte wants to make a free agency splash in 2023).

In any of these deals, it seems unlikely that Westbrook would stick around with his new team, with the possible exception of Charlotte. Russ would probably push for a buyout, so that he could latch on with a championship contender on a cheap deal.

Read More 

Back to top button