The trade restrictions on Los Angeles Lakers rookies Moe Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk were lifted on Thursday, making all three players eligible to be included in potential deals.
Since Wagner, Bonga and Mykhailiuk were taken in the 2018 NBA Draft, they can be traded 30 days after they sign their rookie deals. Undrafted rookies that are signed in free agency, like Joel Berry, Jonathan Williams and Jeffrey Carroll, can’t be traded until Dec. 15.
Wagner was the first to have his trade restriction lifted on July 31, followed by Bonga on August 5 and finally Mkyhailiuk on Thursday. The question now is, will any of them be moved before the start of the regular season?
When the Lakers officially introduced Wagner and Mykhailiuk in July, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson sounded committed to developing the two rookies. However, that was before the team went and signed arguably the greatest basketball player on Earth in LeBron James.
If an opportunity presents itself that would put the Lakers closer to contention this year and/or clear cap space for next summer, you can bet the front office wouldn’t hesitate to make a move involving any combination of Wagner, Bonga or Mykhailiuk.
Of the three aforementioned players, Mykhailiuk probably has the highest trade value currently, despite being picked the lowest.
Through seven games at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, the 21-year-old looked like a real NBA player, averaging 16.6 points on 48 percent shooting from the field, including 38 percent shooting from behind the arc.
The Klay Thompson comparisons are ambitious, to say the least, but his shot and overall game looks like it will translate to actual games when the regular season starts. Still, he might not be untouchable, but I imagine the Lakers aren’t in any hurry to move Mykhailiuk.
The same could be said of Wagner, who the Lakers are really high on as a potential stretch big. However, unlike Mykhailiuk, the No. 25 overall pick didn’t show an elite or refined NBA skill during summer league, making him the second-most valuable rookie on the roster as things stand today, although, as a first-round pick, that could obviously change in a hurry.
As for Bonga, he still has a ways to go on both ends of the floor, but there’s a reason the front office traded for another second-round pick to grab him leading up to draft night. The 18-year-old point forward flashed impressive playmaking instincts when he wasn’t turning the ball over in Las Vegas, and his length (6-foot-9 with a 7-foot wingspan) screams defensive upside. That being said, he’s easily the most expendable of the three rookies right now and will likely not play significant minutes for the Lakers this year whether they trade him or not.
WIth just a hair under two months until training camp, it’s unlikely the Lakers are exploring trades involving this year’s crop of rookies — especially with Kawhi Leonard no longer an option for now — but at least it’s an option they have available to them as of today. Only time will tell how much they value their picks, and whether or not they’d be willing to deal them for more immediate help when push comes to shove.
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