Now that Dec. 15 has come and gone and a number of free agents from last summer are trade eligible, the Los Angeles Lakers will canvas the league looking for roster upgrades.
The Lakers have already been linked to a number of players, although recent reports indicate they are still a few weeks away from a potential trade as teams still decide if they will be buyers or sellers ahead of the deadline.
As things currently stand, the Lakers have two first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 that they can trade as well as the contracts of Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn and others to match salaries. They can also sweeten their offers with second-round picks.
That gives the Lakers a number of different options, whether they want to make a big move including both first-round picks and a max salary, or multiple smaller ones by splitting up the picks and salaries.
To no surprise though, it appears the Lakers are aiming high. It has previously been reported that they will only trade both of their first-round picks if they are getting a star in return. That may be why no move has come to fruition yet as according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the Lakers have interest in Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal if any become available:
In the ultimate pie-in-the-sky scenario, the Lakers have interest in Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal if any of the three stars were to become available.
While this is a dream scenario for the Lakers, it’s not exactly realistic as to this point none of those three stars have asked out. And even if they do, there likely would be other interested teams with more to offer than L.A.
So while it’s nice to dream big and hold out hope, at some point the Lakers will likely have to pivot to other trades if they want to improve their roster this season. Role players such as Bojan Bogdanovic, Myles Turner, Buddy Hield and Jae Crowder have all been linked to L.A. recently and would make sense given what their current roster looks like.
Bull may be Lakers’ best option to land star
If the Lakers are holding out for a star, then their best option may be trading for DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic of the Chicago Bulls.
While the Bulls are not believed to have interest in acquiring Westbrook at this time, that could change in the next couple months if they continue to fall in the standings.
This season hasn’t gone as planned for Chicago and with Lonzo Ball’s return still uncertain, the team could look to tank if they find themselves out of the playoff picture by the trade deadline.
The Lakers and DeRozan have had mutual interest for a while, so perhaps L.A.’s two picks would be enticing enough for Chicago to part with him and Vucevic in order to get in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.
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