The Los Angeles Lakers made their big trade deadline move on Wednesday, dealing Russell Westbrook and other pieces to the Utah Jazz in a three-team deal for D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt.
However, it was clear that they had more moves to make. The team still lacked some defense on the perimeter and having offensive-minded guards like Russell and Beasley — as well as a new potential back-up center in Vanderbilt — made Thomas Bryant a difficult fit.
The Lakers reportedly remedied that on Thursday by dealing Bryant to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Davon Reed and three second-round draft picks. The deal was reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Lakers are trading Thomas Bryant to the Nuggets for Davon Reed and three second-round picks, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 9, 2023
With this deal, the Lakers open up back-up center minutes for new addition Vanderbilt as well as Wenyen Gabriel, who had fallen out of the rotation in recent weeks. However, another possible reason for the deal was that Bryant had simply out-played his minimum contract, making re-signing him a tall task this offseason, according to Dan Woike of The L.A. Times:
Bryant had out-played his contract with the Lakers and with the team moving over the cap via trades, it was best to route him to a new home instead of losing him for nothing this summer https://t.co/bT4JTY0G7L
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) February 9, 2023
Bryant wanting more playing time was also a factor in the deal, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
Bryant had grown unhappy with his diminished PT since AD returned and asked LAL to look for a better situation. He’d also outplayed his contract & LA only has mid-level to re-sign him— so they opted to give his minutes to Wenyen Gabriel & replenish the picks they gave up for Rui. https://t.co/OLaVrB9AkN
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 9, 2023
If the Lakers felt that they weren’t going to be able to pay Bryant this offseason regardless, then getting three second-round picks — the same price they paid for Rui Hachimura — is good business by Rob Pelinka and the Lakers front office.
They also can now play centers that better fit the mold of their team. Gabriel and Vanderbilt provide athleticism and defense, making them seamless fits next to Anthony Davis and LeBron James, as well as the team’s more scoring-heavy guards like Russell and Beasley.
The Lakers may not be done yet, either. They may still look to add a center via the buyout market and are still in the market for another wing via trade.
Lakers targeting Bogdanovic?
One name to watch for is Detroit Pistons wing Bojan Bogdanovic. The Lakers have been linked to him for a while now, although the Pistons don’t seem to be intent on moving the 33-year-old.
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