The Los Angeles Lakers can’t make any big trades until Dec. 15, when the players they signed over the summer become eligible to be moved, but the NBA trade rumor fireworks started a little earlier than that, when on Sunday night it was reported that the Lakers and Phoenix Suns had discussed a deal for Trevor Ariza that might include a third team.
But before anyone does anything regrettable like get their graphics intern to photoshop a former Laker into a Lakers jersey, maybe we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves. Dec. 15 is still about a little less than a week away, and according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 Phoenix — who has always been plugged in with the Suns — the two sides aren’t “close” on any deal:
Suns have heard from no less than 8 teams interested in acquiring Trevor Ariza. Lakers are one of those teams but there is nothing close at this time. Suns not interested in KCP and a bench player.— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) December 10, 2018
A couple important things to note: While Caldwell-Pope was the main piece the Lakers were rumored to be sending out in the original report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, he also has a de-facto no-trade clause because he was re-signed using Bird rights this offseason on a one-year deal after only spending a year with the team. He can thus reject any theoretical destination.
That said, he may not be going to Phoenix anyway. Wojnarowski reported that the Lakers and Suns were looking for a third team to take Caldwell-Pope, while “the Suns want to land a playmaking guard and a draft asset as the price of unloading Ariza.”
Gambadoro (sort of) contradicted that line of thinking, or at least made it clear that the Suns want a young guy who can contribute right away (ignore the second part of this where he talks about Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz, that seems to more be speculating more so than reporting):
I get the feeling the Suns have no interest in adding more projects to the roster. They want guys that can play now. So I doubt they would go after a Markelle Fultz or even Lonzo Ball.— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) December 10, 2018
It’s hard to imagine any team giving up a promising young guard for Caldwell-Pope, unless there are other pieces the Lakers or Suns are sending out to make things work for all three sides, so this seems a ways away from happening if that’s actually what the Suns are looking for. And three-way deals where three general managers walk away happy are notoriously difficult to make work, which is why they’re rarely seen in the NBA.
So to sum things up: It sounds like at the very least nothing is imminent between the Lakers and Suns, both because it’s not Dec. 15 and because both sides might be looking for very different things, with a possible third variable to eventually throw another wrench into things. Ariza could still very possibly come home to Los Angeles, but that outcome seems further away than it did on Sunday night.