Anytime anything happens in the NBA, the key to my career has been asking the all-important question: “How does this affect the Lakers?” More often than not, it’s an answerable question, albeit to varying degrees. In this case, Deandre Ayton returning to the Phoenix Suns will impact the Lakers both on the court and in their offseason hopes.
This week on “The Hook,” Aaron Larsuel and I answered this question, as well as many others facing the Lakers as, by their own admission, they still have plenty of work to do before they can call it a successful offseason.
First and foremost, Ayton re-signing in Phoenix means a really good Suns team will remain really good next season and moving forward. As they’re in the Lakers’ division, at least four games next season will be that much tougher. This should go without saying but very often this time of year we tend to forget the actual basketball.
As it pertains to the Lakers’ summer plans, Ayton re-signing means that’s one fewer team on Kevin Durant’s list of preferred destinations that can viably put a realistic trade package together that falls in line with what we’ve seen stars go for over the last few weeks. And the harder it gets for teams to trade for Durant, the more likely it becomes that Brooklyn could convince Durant to stick around.
And the more likely it becomes that Durant sticks around, well, the more likely he requests that Irving remain a part of Brooklyn’s plans for next season.
And if Irving is a Net next season, that makes it pretty hard for him to step in as Russell Westbrook’s replacement.
Does this mean an Irving trade is off the table? Obviously not. By all recent reports, Durant hasn’t wavered in his stance on wanting to be moved this summer and even more importantly for the Lakers, Irving’s trade market simply hasn’t materialized outside of L.A. But as I wrote yesterday, that can change quickly and leverage can disappear with a single decision.
Aaron and I discussed this, the oxymoron that is restricted free agency, the latest on this Irving-Westbrook, Nets-Lakers standoff, Aaron’s time in Vegas and why it’s such a great trip to make, and plenty more.
You can listen to the full episode below, and to make sure you never miss a show, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.