Over the past two seasons, criticism thrown the Lakers’ way typically focused on how they don’t have enough assets to improve their roster. We heard it last offseason before the Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook (shoutout to The Athletic’s John Hollinger) and this year before the purple and gold engaged with the Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers on a potential trade.
Despite having only two first round draft picks to sweeten a deal for Westbrook’s expiring contract, Los Angeles has again been able to sneak their way into the trade talks this summer. And in the face of their reluctance to give away all of their remaining draft capital, multiple rival executives still believe that the Lakers have enough assets to make a move this summer — whether by acquiring another All-Star or a couple of solid role players.
According to the Los Angeles Times’ Lakers beat writer Dan Woike, rival executives feel that the only way the Lakers can upgrade their team this summer is if they give up their 2027 and 2029 draft picks. In his latest piece, Woike also mentioned that these corresponding draft picks are appealing enough for the Nets and Pacers to get on the phone, negotiate with Rob Pelinka, and hopefully seal a deal.
... if the Lakers fully wanted to empty their arsenal, they could include pick swaps to sweeten any deal. In total, it’s probably enough, according to some rival executives, to push the Lakers across the finish line in a deal with the Pacers for Turner and Hield (though the asking price for Turner has generally been at least a pair of firsts). And if the Nets decide to trade Kevin Durant, the package of Lakers picks and potential swaps should again be able to satisfy Brooklyn or a third team willing to take on Westbrook before, likely, buying him out and making him a free agent.
For now, the reported potential deal to acquire a package centered around Kyrie Irving or Myles Turner and Buddy Hield (three players who the Lakers have had their eyes on all summer) would require both of the Lakers’ available first-rounders. It makes sense for both the Nets and Pacers to demand both picks because not only will they have to take on Westbrook’s hefty contract, but also give up real basketball talent.
In a few weeks, we’ll have an answer to the question as to whether the Lakers are willing to sacrifice future assets in order to reopen their championship window. But thankfully, for now, there’s enough proof to conclude that Los Angeles is still in the game — they have the means to improve their basketball product if they choose to.
Whether they do it or not remains the biggest question facing the team heading into training camp.
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