The Lakers’ patience in making a trade this season is founded on a number of things. For one, the idea is that as teams play out their first 20 games of the season, they may re-evaluate their chances of winning and become sellers. The other idea is that the deals currently available aren’t all that appealing.
As it stands, the Lakers have deals that seemingly could be worked out, based on various reports, with Charlotte, Indiana and Utah. None of those deals seem particularly appealing to the franchise, which has led to their standing pat.
When it comes to Utah, the Lakers have both a relationship with their front office after completing a deal earlier this offseason and familiarity with what they would offer for Russell Westbrook.
The Jazz, Lakers and Westbrook were the subjects of a lengthy conversation between Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports and Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune on the former’s podcast, Please Don’t Aggregate This.
Fischer: (re: potential deal with Russell Westbrook) I think partially it’s a thing and it remains a thing because any potential deal with Utah could have been struck all this time, right? They already made a deal with Patrick Beverley, a smaller scale that brought over Talen Horton-Tucker, I think if there’s a bigger Russell Westbrook deal to be made with Utah, it would have already happened
Larsen: It totally depends on the Lakers side of things...if that really was the offer, the Jazz were pretty motivated to get that done, that they would add in kind of a lesser first in exchange for the upside or the variance in the two picks down the road I think does indicate like hey, they may have been willing to kinda make this happen
The offer discussed, as linked above, would have reportedly sent Russ and both the 2027 and 2029 first-round picks to the Jazz for a package consisting of Bojan Bogdanović, Rudy Gay, Mike Conley and a 2023 first-round pick. With Bogdanović dealt elsewhere to Detroit, that deal is off the table and none of the alternatives would strike the same chord for the Lakers.
As a result, the Lakers have resisted including both picks, as Larsen and Fischer continued to discuss.
Larsen: The Lakers have been seemingly pretty set on not giving up these two future firsts to improve this team this year, while they have all the pressure in the world to do that, they also had all the pressure in the world to do that last week and didn't get it done. I don't know if that changes and we’ll see how flighty the Lakers are, but to me, that's the team that is kinda holding up conversations, or has been. I think the Jazz would be willing to make a deal somewhere in that ballpark.
Fischer: I would agree, that has been my read of it for quite a while. Last thing we’ll say, I think it’s been made very clear to people around the NBA, to rival teams, that the Lakers are only willing to move those two picks if they're getting back someone, or someones, that they really think moves them into a title-contending realm for now and the foreseeable future.
Again, it makes sense that the Lakers are the more patient of the two here. The Jazz don’t really have enticing pieces with Bogdanović out of the picture. Jordan Clarkson isn’t moving the needle as another guard, since the Lakers already have plenty of them. Mike Conley has an albatross of a contract, Malik Beasley has off-court issues and Rudy Gay is an aging veteran.
Of the deals on the table, the Jazz certainly does not rank at the top. The impetus, then, would be on them to make the deal more appealing. Perhaps that means not including Conley, not asking for both first-round picks or including better draft compensation of their own. It’s tough to see a deal from the Jazz, though, that is more appealing than trading for either Myles Turner with the Pacers or Terry Rozier of Charlotte.
Danny Ainge is going to have really push to get a deal done, which isn’t the nature of Ainge, and that is perhaps what makes a deal with Utah most unlikely of the possible suitors.