With NBA training camp not too far away, one of the biggest remaining dominoes that has yet to fall is what the Utah Jazz will do with All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell. However, a trade appears all but certain as the franchise looks to begin a rebuild, and their recent trade with the Los Angeles Lakers is more proof the team is planning on getting younger.
In their trade of Rudy Gobert, the team received a ton of draft capital, and it appears they want the same in a potential Mitchell deal. But big trades like this often need a third team to help facilitate it, and with the Lakers also holding a pair of future picks and a big expiring contract to help match salaries, they could be the perfect team to get involved.
According to NBA reporter Marc Stein (subscription required), there is a decent chance that the Lakers could be involved in the deal somehow as the 2027 and 2029 draft picks are the kind of picks Jazz CEO Danny Ainge prefers:
“If the [New York] Knicks manage to win the trade race for Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, or even if another team unexpectedly beats them to Mitchell, league sources say there’s a decent chance that the Lakers will be involved in the deal. The two future first-round picks that the Lakers possess in 2027 and 2029 are the kind of top-shelf draft picks that Jazz CEO Danny Ainge is believed to covet. Russell Westbrook’s $47 million expiring contract and those picks could be the Lakers’ entree to a potential three-team swap … depending on the players that would land in Los Angeles.”
This makes sense, as Utah wants a lot of draft picks, and most teams would be hesitant to give up so much. But if the Lakers were to throw in one or both of those picks, it would give the Jazz what they desire without the other team giving up their entire draft capital. Meanwhile, the Lakers shedding Westbrook’s contract would give them the space to take on a couple more win-now veteran players such as Bojan Bogdanovic, Malik Beasley, or Jordan Clarkson.
This idea makes sense for all potential parties, but these things are not easy to put together. But Rob Pelinka and the Lakers front office don’t seem to be done tinkering with the roster before things get underway.
Lakers will remain patient in potential Russell Westbrook trade
But despite all of the rumors about a possible deal happening soon, the Lakers have insisted that they will only make a deal that improves the roster and not just one to rid them of Russell Westbrook, and that remains the case.
Recent reports suggest that the Lakers could wait until the trade deadline before trading Westbrook. The team continues to exercise patience in discussions and will not simply make a trade just for the sake of doing so. Improving the roster is the top priority, and the Lakers will not make a deal that doesn’t do just that.