The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly still engaged in trade talks with the San Antonio Spurs but don’t appear to have the right combination of assets to get a deal done without giving up something they really don’t want to move. So the next logical step is to make a move to net another asset the Spurs might be interested in.
It makes sense, therefore, that Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post is reporting the Lakers have reached out to the Denver Nuggets to offer a trade and take on a bad contract in conjunction with a first-round pick.
With San Antonio believed to be uninterested in Lonzo Ball, the Lakers have three other intriguing young players — Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart — plus their future first-round picks to include in a deal.
In an attempt to sweeten the pot, multiple sources said the Lakers and Denver Nuggets are discussing a potential deal that would see Los Angeles take back bad money for a draft pick. The Nuggets, who will be deep into the luxury tax after re-signing restricted free agent center Nikola Jokic next month, have about $34 million in expiring contracts for Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur and Wilson Chandler to send out in possible deals.
It’s still insane to me that the Spurs are so disinterested by Ball but okay, sure. It also behooves the Lakers to hold off on including all those assets until they absolutely have to and even then, do so fairly nervously given his injury concern and the circumstances under which he became available.
As it stands right now, the Lakers can afford to take on any of the three mentioned players’ expiring contracts without sending anything back. Doing so, however, would seriously endanger either potentially keeping Julius Randle and/or adding Paul George after LeBron James signs and a Leonard trade goes through.
Maybe the Lakers could deal whoever they add (preferably Chandler, in my opinion) separately, but that couldn’t happen until after the offseason is already over and teams have already used their cap space.
There are obviously quite a few things up in the air right now, but given the Lakers’ current leverage in talks with San Antonio (even with Philadelphia reportedly getting involved), it’s hard not to think they don’t have enough to work out a deal as they currently stand, making it even more unpalatable to consider taking on unnecessary money that might stop them from making moves beyond their big three potential acquisitions.