Lakers: Why ESPN Experts Don’t Believe Lakers Should Trade Both Draft Picks

The latest on LA’s moves.

Your Los Angeles Lakers have two very “win-now” pieces in All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but the rest of their team has looked mediocre at best. Is the club’s front office really open to punting on its future even more than it already has (the team has sacrificed boatloads of draft picks in acquiring Davis and Russell Westbrook in separate trades) in an effort to improve the club this season? And even if that happened, would it be enough to put LA over the top and into that championship conversation?

In a new episode of Zach Lowe’s podcast The Lowe Post, he spoke with cap expert Bobby Marks about the state of your Lakers.

“I keep hearing people say, ‘If the Lakers move those two picks for X, Y and Z’ — and we can talk about what X, Y and Z are, I think the [Indiana Pacers veterans] Myles Turner/Buddy Hield ship maybe has sailed, given that the Pacers are good and Myles Turner is extension-eligible as I’ve talked about ad nauseum — ‘they’d have a puncher’s chance in any series in the Western Conference, the proverbial puncher’s chance,'” Lowe said.

“There are two general problems with [the idea that] the Lakers should trade these picks just to help LeBron,” Lowe continued. “Number one is, okay, what’s the trade or trades? Name it… Number two: the puncher’s chance theory is flawed for a number of reasons. Yeah you could have a puncher’s chance in any series in the Western Conference. To win three in a row, in which you’re gonna be an underdog with home court disadvantage… every time, you gotta land that punch three times in a row… You gotta… at least have a realistic shot at [winning all] three, to make trading those picks worth my while. Also, all of this puncher’s chance theory is based on the best-case scenario for LeBron James, which is he doesn’t get hurt again, and Anthony Davis, which is that he gets healthy, resumes playing at an MVP level, and doesn’t get hurt again. Well I don’t know if I can torpedo my future based on just the rosiest possible outcome, particularly for Davis, who just cannot stay healthy.”

Marks weighed in, noting his overall pessimism about the Lakers being able flip both picks for a return package so good it could get LA back to the terrain of title contention.

“Yeah I don’t see a deal for both those picks in any way,” Marks noted. “I wouldn’t even trade them for [Detroit Pistons power forward] Bojan Bogdanovic… It’s not a buyer’s market. They’re one of 30 teams that are realizing the harsh [reality] here that, if there’s going to be a deal, it’s going to be the week of the trade deadline, when teams are waiting for the best offer… Beverley, Nunn, [a top five-protected draft pick in 2027], for Jakob Poeltl and let’s say Josh Richardson… that’s the [kind of] trade [that would be doable].”

Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn’s expiring deals together total $18.3 million, and thus could potentially bring some interesting assets. This season, San Antonio Spurs veterans Poeltl (underpaid at $9.4 million) and Richardson (overpaid at $12.2 million) are worth a collective $21.6 million. 

There’s no question that a move for Bogdanovic (whose $19.5 million likely salary could be more or less matched by moving Beverley and Nunn, though whether the Pistons would be happy with just one of the team’s two movable draft picks, in 2027 and 2029, is another question) or Poeltl and Richardson would improve LA right now. Would it be enough for help LA topple the rest of the West? This writer is also skeptical, but it might behoove LA to at least try a return to playoff relevance.

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