Earlier this month, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the Dallas Mavericks were working on finding Dennis Smith Jr., the No. 9 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, a new home. He’s since re-joined the team, but the Mavericks were in engaged in talks with several teams before then, including the Los Angeles Lakers.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Lakers were one of three times the Mavericks discussed trades for Smith with:
Smith and the Mavericks had been working to accommodate a trade for him, but receiving equal value for a talented, former No. 9 overall pick just one year into his four-year rookie-scale contract is nearly impossible. The Mavericks discussed Smith deals with several teams, including Orlando, New York and the L.A. Lakers, league sources said.
This report comes fresh off of comments by Luke Walton saying team president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were looking for “other options and possibilities” to fill the void at point guard left by Lonzo Ball, who will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a Grade 3 ankle sprain.
But what kind of package would the Lakers offer for a former top-10 pick like Smith?
Smith makes roughly $3.8 million a year, so while matching salaries would be relatively easy, a straight player-for-player swap would be hard unless the Mavericks were infatuated with someone like Lance Stephenson or Michael Beasley.
It’s more likely that the Lakers discussed a trade involving both Smith and veteran shooting guard Wesley Matthews, who Wojnarowski reported the Mavericks were trying to include in any deal for Smith.
Combined, Matthews and Smith make $22.4 million, so the Lakers’ offer would have probably been built around Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, one of their lower-tier young players like Moe Wagner, who has reportedly been made available in trade talks, and a salary filler.
Unless the Mavericks saw Caldwell-Pope as a potential long-term piece, it’s hard to imagine they couldn’t get more for Smith from a team like the Phoenix Suns or Orlando Magic, who are in desperate need of a high upside point guard. It’s for that reason talks likely fell apart.
However, this report does confirm that the Lakers are actively engaged in trade discussions as the Feb. 7 trade deadline approaches. It’s possible (probable, even) that they stand pat, but it sounds like they’re interested in adding talent, both young and proven.
It’s going to be an interesting few weeks, to say the least.