The Los Angeles Lakers currently find themselves in an interesting position as far as making a trade to improve the roster or standing pat and hanging onto their limited future assets.
It’s no secret that the Lakers came into the 2022-23 season with hopes of bouncing back and competing for a championship. While they were unable to trade Russell Westbrook this past summer, they brought in a new coach in Darvin Ham and filled the roster with a lot more youth compared to the 2021-22 version.
So far though, that has not led to results as the Lakers currently sit at 3-10, one of the worst records in the league. The team lacks shooting and size and while they have shown some signs of improvement, they seem to be far off from being able to compete for a championship even with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
It has previously been reported that Rob Pelinka is waiting until after Thanksgiving to assess if they need to make a trade.
If the Lakers were to make a deal it would likely include Westbrook’s $47 million expiring contract and either one or both of their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks, which are the only ones they can trade for the remainder of the debate.
Packages that have been discussed include Myles Turner and Buddy Hield of the Indiana Pacers, Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier of the Charlotte Hornets and a number of other possibilities including the Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons.
The Lakers only have one chance to get a deal right though, so considering that the team is 3-10, our staff debated if it makes sense to make a deal now or if it would be better to stand pat until the summer when they will have a lot more cap space at their disposal to improve the roster.
Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane):
The Lakers are in a tough spot, with a roster that may not be capable of being a true contender even with a trade. However, if they don’t make a trade it will be seen as giving up on the season, thus putting them at odds with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who want to win now, in addition to the team’s massive fan base.
Ultimately, despite the poor start it’s worth it for the Lakers to consider moving the picks with a crucial qualifier: they need to get back players that are likely to retain value into the future. Trading away future capital diminishes flexibility so it’s important that they land pieces that could potentially be flipped to recoup assets should they enter a full rebuild in the next few years.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH):
Regardless of the Lakers’ record, my rules on trading both the 2027 and 2029 first-round picks remains the same. If the Lakers are getting a true star that changes the fortune of the franchise and will make them a real contender, then it is worth moving those picks. Anything less than a star and it is a mistake to deal both, unprotected, in my opinion.
If there are some protections attached to the picks, then I am more willing to part with the picks for multiple high quality role players, but it would have to be top-5 at worst, if not top-10 or lottery protected. You just can’t trade two unprotected picks for players who bring you to the play-in tournament.
But if a real star is available, it is worth it in my opinion, even if the Lakers are terrible at the moment.
Damian Burchardt (@D_Burchardt):
I was a big supporter of spending the Lakers’ two first-round picks on roster upgrades back in the summer, hoping it could make L.A. somewhat competitive in 2022-23. That ship has sailed, though. There won’t be enough time for new players to settle in to make it work, even if the Lakers got a decent return for Russell Westbrook. And the roster is so awkwardly built any trade is unlikely to move the needle anyway. This season is unsalvageable.
On the other hand, next year’s free agency class might not be worth saving cap space. Kyrie Irving should not be allowed to come anywhere near Crypto.com Arena. James Harden will likely be out of reach financially even if he opts out of his contract with the 76ers. Khris Middleton might pick up his player option. Same goes for Fred VanVleet.
Would Kristaps Porzingis make for an exciting free agency signing? I’m not so sure.
Perhaps acquiring a couple of valuable contracts for Westbrook and flipping them in a bigger trade next summer is the best option here? Still, as things stand, I wouldn’t sacrifice a first-round pick to do that — let alone two.
Anthony Gharib (@GharibSports):
The Lakers should just stand pat until next summer because it seems no deal will be enough to propel them into championship contention. Teams around the league know the Lakers are desperate to make a deal and may not pay up to the worth of two future first-round picks. Therefore, that deal may not be as valuable than if they stay patient and trade the picks later.
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