While the Los Angeles Lakers have yet to make a trade since the regular season began, they have been perhaps the most active team in the NBA when it comes to the rumor mill. It feels as though nearly every player on the roster — except for LeBron James — has had their name thrown into a trade rumor.
But one thing has remained consistent through all the noise. The Lakers are not going to make a trade that involves their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks unless the return is significant enough to vault them into championship contention.
And in a new wrinkle to this caveat, the Lakers are reportedly seeking trades that improve their fortunes over multiple years, not just the 2022-23 campaign, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“If the right deal emerges that will make them — in their eyes — a better team over the next like three years, that’s their priority. They want the team to get to the best level it can get while LeBron James is still on the roster. But if that means not making that deal in February and playing out the rest of this season with the group that they have and knowing that they feel like there’s gonna be a better deal in July in the offseason, they’ll do that.”
The Lakers being rumored to look only for trades that improve them for the next three seasons almost contradicts previous reporting that the team does not want to take on long-term money. Of course, there are ways to both improve the team’s next three years without necessarily taking on multi-year contracts.
For example, the famed Buddy Hield and Myles Turner for Russell Westbrook swap involves just an expiring contract and a two-year deal. But the Lakers would have both player’s bird rights, meaning they could re-sign them to multi-year deals that take them above the salary cap when they become free agents.
They could also take on DeMar DeRozan, who is guaranteed under contract through next season, when the Lakers would again have bird rights.
It seems as though, once again, the Lakers are shifting what they’re looking for in a potential mega-deal during the season. Importantly, it appears they’re willing to let this team ride out the season and regroup in the offseason when they pick up another tradeable first-round pick and have close to $30 million in cap space.
LeBron James still hoping to finish career with Lakers
Despite recent comments from James that appeared to vent frustration towards the Lakers front office, rumors indicate that James is still hoping to finish his career with L.A. Of course, continued losing could change his mind, but that reportedly is his plan with the Lakers sitting at 19-23.
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