Monday’s showdown between the Lakers and Pacers brings back to the forefront the trade discussions between the two sides. Even if it hardly ever moved into the background, the rumors are front and center once again, particularly as Myles Turner and Buddy Hield have shot out of a cannon to start their seasons.
The discussions have been between the two franchises and front offices have been written about plenty of times. On Monday, an article from Dave McMenamin of ESPN revisited some of the fine points in recent months of the trade talks and how close the two teams have come to doing a deal.
The proposed trade, which involved Turner and shooting guard Buddy Hield going to the Lakers and L.A. sending point guard Russell Westbrook and draft capital in return, fell apart when the Lakers backed away, multiple sources told ESPN.
The Lakers decided that giving up both their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks — the only future first-round assets they have in their draft chest — was too steep a price to pay for a haul that wouldn’t indisputably propel them to contender status, sources said.
Plus the Lakers reasoned, sources said, the same deal with the Pacers would still be there down the line should they reengage.
Notably, Sam Amick and Shams Charania of The Athletic previously reported that the Lakers and Pacers got to the “one-yard line” on a deal, which seems to be corroborated by McMenamin’s piece on Monday.
It’s clear these two teams had, at least in principle, agreed to a deal and were ready to pull the trigger before the Lakers backed out. Since then, they’ve chosen the route of patience even despite their very poor start. McMenamin also detailed in his article why the Lakers have chosen patience over a Buddy and Myles deal, among others.
When the Lakers started the season 0-5, Wojnarowski reported L.A. would wait until around Thanksgiving before looking to upgrade the team. The thinking behind that timing, team sources said, was threefold. Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka wanted to see how the group that was assembled in the offseason, featuring six players from last season’s team, looked together; he wanted to give first-year head coach Darvin Ham the chance to bring his vision for reinvigorating Westbrook to life; and he didn’t want to come off as desperate with early-season trade talk, knowing other teams would take advantage in any potential negotiations.
Where things stand now is an adjusted timeline for L.A. The Lakers expect more teams will be willing to engage them in trade talks after Dec. 15, when contracts that were signed in the summer are eligible to be moved, sources said. But even with more possibilities opening up, league business slows around the holidays, so the odds of any action before mid-January are remote.
If it feels like you’re being gaslighted by Rob Pelinka, well, you’re not the only one. This would be the third deadline and second postponement of a deadline to start the season.
First, it was the 20-game mark that would serve as a large enough sample size before making a deal. Then it was Dec. 15, the date that players signed in the off-season can be dealt. Both of those dates have some logic based in them.
This newest deadline? Ehhhhh. This is when it’s starting to feel like the Lakers are just looking for reasons to not work out a trade. Look, there may not be a lot of deals available right now on the trade market, which would be fine. But nobody asked for these deadlines and offering them up only to basically ignore them when they arrive is silly.
As it pertains to Buddy and Myles, it’s a deal that is going to exist throughout all this, which is likely why the Lakers are waiting. The longer they wait, the less they would have to give up for the pair. But the longer they wait, the less time they have to build chemistry with the Lakers.
It’s a fine line the Lakers are walking, but it’s becoming clear they have already chosen which they’re falling on for now.