Now that Kyrie Irving is no longer an option after being traded to the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers will have to look elsewhere to find roster upgrades ahead of Thursday’s deadline.
One potential option that continues to pop up is the Utah Jazz, who have a variety of veterans that they would be willing to deal for the right price.
It was recently reported that the Lakers and Jazz have been talking about a trade involving Russell Westbrook and draft picks for Mike Conley, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt.
Those are all players that can help the Lakers, and according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, those talks are continuing and have involved both of the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks:
For example, sources said the Jazz have had discussions about a deal in which a combination of rotation players including Conley and Beasley would go to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for 2027 and 2029 first-round picks and Russell Westbrook, who would likely receive a buyout instead of joining the Jazz.
While it makes sense that the Lakers and Jazz are continuing to talk as a deal of this nature would make sense for both sides – the Lakers would rid themselves of Westbrook’s expiring $47 million contract while acquiring multiple players that can help them win now and the Jazz would be unloading Conley’s contract, which has $14 million guaranteed next season – it’s hard to believe L.A. would offer both their 2027 and 2029 picks.
Rob Pelinka has made it clear that he will only trade both picks if it elevates the Lakers to being championship frontrunners, and his actions have supported that as he has resisted multiple opportunities to make a deal.
While not impossible, it would be very uncharacteristic of Pelinka to change his stance and trade both picks for a package such as this one with the Jazz. If it only involves one first-round pick, then that would perhaps be something L.A. is interested in.
Utah is likely talking to dozens of teams ahead of the trade deadline about their multiple appealing veterans. Danny Ainge is obviously trying to get as much draft compensation as possible, and portraying the Lakers as offering both picks may get other teams to up their offers to get a deal done.
According to the same report from MacMahon, the sentiment around the league is that Ainge is asking for too much in trade talks:
“The Jazz are asking for too damn much,” a rival general manager told ESPN.
Ainge does not need to lower his asking prices until just before the deadline on Thursday, so expect that to be when things heat up.
The Jazz are in a unique position where they are rebuilding but also in the playoff mix though. So if they don’t find what they are looking for on the trade market, they can always just stand pat and continue trying to compete.
Other teams Lakers are talking to
According to various reports, other teams the Lakers are talking to ahead of the deadline include the Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Hornets, San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls.
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