The Los Angeles Lakers have been one of the most active teams on the free agent market this summer as they look to rebuild their once-great franchise. Along with the team’s young core, LeBron James signed a four-year, $154 million contract with the storied franchise.
With that much ammunition, the team could be a major force on the trade market as well. Teams that are put in a situation where they need to part ways with a superstar — like the San Antonio Spurs appear to be with Kawhi Leonard — often prefer to get young players and future assets in return.
That said, the Lakers’ young core has made real strides, winning 35 games during the 2017-18 NBA season. The future looks extremely bright in the short- and long-term, which raises questions about whether the front office would hesitate to trade any of their talented youngsters or if they would be deemed untouchable.
General manager Rob Pelinka recently discussed the topic and had an interesting response.
“That’s always a trick question. Other people have said every player in the NBA is virtually tradable. What if one team said, ‘We’ll give you two first-team All-Pro guys for your one first-team All-Pro guy?’ The GM of the one is going to probably do that. So really, it depends on what the definition of ‘untradable’ is. We don’t really get into hypothetical things.”
On the surface, Pelinka is correct that technically there is no such thing as an untradeable player in the NBA. Even historically bad contracts that were considered impossible to be traded have been dealt, such as Timofey Mozgov’s deal which has now been dealt twice within a year.
Superstar talent and young prospects alike are not immune, either. For example, few would have thought the Oklahoma City Thunder would trade James Harden, but indeed they did when the team started to feel the pinch of the league’s tax rules.
No one in the league is truly untouchable.
That said, the question Pelinka didn’t want to answer is really whether any player is untouchable in realistic trade talks. If the New Orleans Pelicans hypothetically called and offered a deal for Anthony Davis centered around Kyle Kuzma, they would make the swap in a heartbeat. In an even-value deal, however, it’s unlikely the Lakers would move Kuzma.
Of course, Pelinka is doing the right thing by not truly answering the question or naming specific players, as it only serves to box the team in, reveal their player valuations to opponents, and create uproar amongst both fans and players. The bottom line is that the Lakers, like every team, will make any deal they feel is in their best interest.
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