With the NBA trade deadline rapidly approaching, the clock is ticking louder and louder for the Lakers and the rest of the league to make moves before the final buzzer on Thursday, Feb. 10 at 12 p.m. PT. The Lakers have been mentioned in rumors across the league, but with very little in the way of valued, tradeable assets and many other teams still firmly in wait-and-see mode, reports and rumors have had the same central figures for the purple and gold.
On that note, The Athletic had a handful of reports on Tuesday that beat largely to the same drum, with a few new, smaller details mixed in.
The repeated trade package
Realistically, there are only three assets the Lakers have that they’re both comfortable parting with and also have value on the market, although how much value is up for debate: Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and a 2027 first-round pick. That package has been shopped around the league throughout the weeks leading up to the deadline, and the fact all three are still on the Lakers gives an indication of their collective value.
Still, the Lakers remain persistent, and Lakers beat writers Jovan Buha and Bill Oram reported on Tuesday that the most likely scenario, if they’re dealt, is for a two-way player that can improve the team right away.
However, the relative value (or lack thereof) of that package, paired with a lack of available players, means that a move still isn’t a certainty.
The most likely outcome for the Lakers is that they stand pat with their current roster through Thursday’s deadline. But if they make a trade, it would likely be in the form of moving Horton-Tucker and/or Nunn for a more impactful two-way player, according to league sources.
The issue for the Lakers is finding players that fit the criteria. There aren’t many productive role players on midsized contracts available. The trade market for Horton-Tucker has also significantly cooled since last season, according to league sources.
Realistically, packaging a player who hasn’t played this season (Nunn), a prospect who has taken a major step backward this year (Horton-Tucker) and a first round pick nearly half a decade away from conveying (2027) probably won’t lead to a significant return, unless a team is either desperate to move a player, or really confident the Lakers will be bad in 2027.
Finding an impactful two-way player is a challenge in and of itself, and doing so with a subpar trade package will be even more difficult for the Lakers, as they’ve spent the last few weeks finding out.
Not so fond farewell
The Lakers took a risk by filling out their roster with mostly veteran’s minimum contracts. While some have hit in Carmelo Anthony and Malik Monk, others have missed wildly, like DeAndre Jordan and Kent Bazemore.
The latter two’s days in Los Angeles certainly seems numbered, as Buha and Oram also reported on Tuesday.
Other than trying to move Horton-Tucker and/or Nunn, the next-most likely move for the Lakers would be dumping the contract of one of DeAndre Jordan or Kent Bazemore, either via trade or buyout, according to league sources. The goal would be to both save money on their $150-plus million cap sheet and to create an additional roster spot, according to league sources.
Two of the starters on Opening Night, it’s a sign of just how poorly things have gone for the Lakers this season that neither could potentially be on the team by the All-Star break. Not that it hasn’t been warranted, though, as both have been woeful this season. It’s not the first time reports have surfaced of the team trying to trade the pair, but a potential buyout really drives home how unlikely it is both finish the season as Lakers.
Eric Gordon’s return to Los Angeles?
Many moons ago, Eric Gordon was a budding young guard for the other Los Angeles-based basketball team and the highlight player in the trade package for Chris Paul. Over a decade later, could he be a realistic option to return to the Lakers?
According to John Hollinger — a former NBA executive who still talks to people around the league — it may be a route the Lakers eventually go down if they can’t find another suitor for their aforementioned trade package of Horton-Tucker, Nunn and a first. He also confirms Buha and Oram’s report that Bazemore and Jordan are likely goners:
Look around the league and you can see the ground shifting in several other places. The Lakers’ desperation for something, anything around LeBron James and Anthony Davis seems headed toward a knee-jerk trade of Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and a lightly protected 2027 first-round pick for some added help. Eric Gordon seems like too obvious an answer here. (The other deal to expect from L.A. is sending cash to take one or both of DeAndre Jordan and Kent Bazemore off their hands.)
It’s worth noting that Hollinger is far from the only insider to speculate about Gordon and the Lakers. The always plugged-in Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report has also theorized Gordon as a potential Lakers target multiple times. Where there’s smoke from a few well-connected observers, there may be fire.
In 45 games this season, Gordon is shooting 42.7% from the 3-point line on 5.2 attempts per game for the Rockets. In terms of knockdown shooters, there are few better on the market than Gordon.
One of his main issues in recent seasons has been availability. The 45 games played this season are the most he’s played since 2018-19 campaign. If he’s healthy and available, he’s a solid option for the Lakers, though it would come at the cost of all of its assets.
Gordon would also be under contract next season for the Lakers before being a non-guaranteed deal in 2023-24. Shooters always have value on the market at the very least, and Gordon has been one of the best of him at times during his career.
But would he remain an elite shooter once he became a Laker? Could he break the curse of shooters coming to the Lakers and suddenly forgetting how to knock down 3-pointers? We may find out the answer by the end of the week.
To keep up with all the latest reports before the deadline, check out our 2022 Lakers trade rumors tracker. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.