Most Laker fans seem satisfied with the season so far, despite starting 2-5, the team have improved considerably finding themselves lurking in the midpoint of the Western Conference playoff picture, within touching distance of top spot. Regardless of this, fans do have an eye on prospective trades to improve the roster further. It appears that the Lakers hierarchy may be having similar thoughts, too.
December 15th is the important date and is the date that it seems every NBA fan has been waiting patiently for. This is when players who were signed in summer free agency are eligible to be traded. Trade rumours and speculation have been spiraling over the past few weeks, and whilst many names have been linked to join the Lakers, some have been touted as potential trade chips. One name, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, seems to be the centerpiece of any trade rumour, mainly due to his flexible 1-year $12 million contract.
It seems that Caldwell-Pope may be open to a move away from Los Angeles, as reports suggest that his representatives are working to find the 25-year-old a better situation as he aims to secure a lucrative long-term contract in 2019 free agency. The Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets have been named as possible destinations for Caldwell-Pope.
A trade may be looming, with multiple names rumoured to be joining the Lakers. I am sure more will be associated in the forthcoming weeks as we fast-approach the New Year, although for the time being we are going to review some of the names touted to join forces with LeBron James in Los Angeles.
As first reported by ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski earlier on in the week, former Laker Trevor Ariza could be a possible option via a three-team trade. The struggling Pheonix Suns will not be short of choice when it comes to moving the 2009 NBA Champion, as contending teams look to bolster their rosters. However, it is evidently clear that Pheonix will be looking for assets in return.
Ariza would be a welcomed addition to the Lakers, bringing a veteran presence to the team. As a defensive wing with length that can drain the three-pointer, many can see why the 33-year-old could contribute to a Lakers team that desire to make noise come playoff time. In almost every scenario, Caldwell-Pope would be included for salary purposes, possibly to the third team, as Ariza is on a 1-year $15 million contract. The question remains, what further assets would it take to tempt the Suns to part ways with Ariza?
I’m not too sure where to start with this one. A few weeks back, it was rumoured that the Lakers had offered numerous young assets and draft picks for the 28-year-old point guard of the Washington Wizards. Apparently Lonzo Ball, Caldwell-Pope (for obvious reasons) and a third player believed to be out of Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma, had been involved in trade discussions.
Undoubtedly, Wall is a star player and could potentially fit well alongside LeBron James, although Wall is in the final year of his current contract ($19.1 million) before a huge $170 million extension kicks in. The extension, strongly considered the worst contract in the NBA, will lock him in until 2023 and see Wall being paid $47.3 million at 32-years-old.
Washington look in disarray at the moment and are potentially looking to rebuild, therefore a trade centered around the Lakers’ young assets and draft picks would be appealing for the Wizards. On the other hand, the Lakers may not be willing to break up their young core to take on Wall and that enormous contract.
Staying with the Washington Wizards, their star shooting guard Bradley Beal may be a more sustainable option for the Lakers. Much like the John Wall speculation, to get Beal to Los Angeles would most certainly involve breaking up the young core, with future draft picks being included also. Beal has two more years remaining on his current contract beyond this season, that will see him being paid $27.1 million for the 2019/20 season and $28.7 million in his final year.
Obviously, Beal is a more appealing option financially and is still only 25-years-old. This move would provide the Lakers with a much-needed shooter and could be deemed more of a long-term option for the team. Beal has a much broader market than Wall, so if the Lakers come knocking, they’ll most likely not be the only team.
Now this one would be a great fit. Not many reports have specified that the Lakers are interested in the Charlotte Hornets star, but he could be an option for sure. Walker is having a fantastic season so far, averaging 25.8 points per game, 4.4 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.4 steals. In the closing stages of games, the Lakers have been heavily reliant on LeBron James, signing Walker would immediately solve that issue.
Walker is in the final year of his current contract and becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer, so the Lakers would not have to give up as much asset-wise as the options noted above but would need assurances of Walker signing long-term. Although, this trade would under most circumstances involve giving up a young asset, at the very least. Is it worth pulling the trigger to acquire a player of Kemba Walker’s pedigree?
The thought of this one has most Laker fans drooling. A generational talent, Davis would certainly involve clearing house as the majority of the young core would be moved on, along with veterans to match salaries and numerous draft picks.
Earlier this month, a trade scenario was reported by Brandon Robinson that included three teams, the Lakers and Pelicans along with the Orlando Magic. It was reported that Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Caldwell-Pope would be the players involved, with the Lakers asking for Elfrid Payton or Ian Clark in return. In regards to draft picks, Robinson reported that “next year’s first-round pick is involved and most likely multiple picks”.
Rob Pelinka is apparently working on numerous trade packages to acquire Davis. Who, if he was to be acquired, would make the Lakers a contender moving forward and a legitimate threat to the Golden State Warriors. However, the Pelicans currently have the 25-year-old under contract until 2021 and are not forced to part ways with their superstar unless Davis states his intent to play elsewhere.
Obviously, apart from Trevor Ariza, all of the above scenarios are dependent on whether Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka want to keep the young core intact and whether they want to remain with cap flexibility going into 2019 free agency. A free agency period which boasts names such as Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, and so on.
What do you think? Let us know on Twitter over at @lakersfanclubuk.
By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)