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The Lakers are still looking at Cam Reddish, Myles Turner and Buddy Hield as they search for Russell Westbrook trades

The Lakers are reportedly still unwilling to part with two first-round picks, even if the stated goal is for the franchise to be a contender this year.

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Atlanta Hawks v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

When the Lakers made the Patrick Beverley trade, there was the hope that deal was the first domino to restart their offseason maneuvering. Instead, the Lakers still have the same roster a week later, and the same concerns as they try to rebuild their team into a contender.

Here are some rumored deals the Lakers have been linked to before training camp starts, assuming the price isn’t too prohibitive.

Facilitating a Donovan Mitchell trade

Talks between New York and Utah for a Donovan Mitchell trade hit a sticking point earlier this week when the Knicks agreed to a rookie extension with R.J. Barrett, making his contract more difficult to include in a potential deal.

While the two teams continue to work towards moving Mitchell to his hometown, they would likely need a third team to help absorb some salary, and that’s where the Lakers could come in, as reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Jazz president Danny Ainge likes Barrett, but he has prioritized gaining four unprotected first-round picks for Mitchell, a three-time All-Star.

That may not be possible unless a third team such as the Lakers could be added to revive talks. According to a source, the Lakers are open to discussions and still are interested in forward Cam Reddish.

The Lakers have had a long dalliance with Cam Reddish, a fourth-year wing, dating back to when they met with him at the 2019 draft combine. Reddish was traded from Atlanta to New York last season, but the Lakers tried to get in on the bidding war, reportedly offering two second-round picks for Reddish, before the Knicks swooped in with a first.

L.A.’s continued fascination with a player who has made 32.5 percent of his threes over his NBA career — despite being billed as a shooter coming out of college — is a little worrisome, especially when coupled with the fact that Reddish is a Klutch client. At this point, Reddish’s major selling points are that he’s 6’8 and will only be 23 at the start of the season; the Lakers have had success with second-draft candidates in the past (Malik Monk and Stanley Johnson immediately come to find), so there may be value yet in a player with his physical tools.

Pacers reportedly wanted THT before Utah trade

As the Lakers shopped Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, and a 2027 first-round pick at last season’s trade deadline, THT was widely regarded as negative salary in a hypothetical transaction. Horton-Tucker suffered through the worst, or at least most disappointing, year of his professional career in 2021-22, with his shooting percentages cratering from all over the floor; he didn’t get a chance to show off his playmaking on a team with multiple other ball-handlers ahead of him on the pecking order.

It was a minor miracle when the Lakers turned THT into a positive player in Beverley in the Jazz trade, but evidently, Utah wasn’t the only team that had a positive opinion of Horton-Tucker. On the HoopsHype podcast, Michael Scotto shared that Indiana wanted to get THT as part of a larger Russell Westbrook deal:

It seems like the best trade the Lakers can make if they want to move Russell Westbrook and try to win this season is with Indiana for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield. One note that’s interesting is before the Lakers traded Talen Horton-Tucker to Utah in the Patrick Beverley trade, the Pacers were trying to get Horton-Tucker, I’m told. Essentially, Indiana was hoping to get Westbrook’s expiring contract, the Lakers’ two first-round picks in 2027 and 2029, along with Horton-Tucker for Turner, Hield and they wanted to make LA take Daniel Theis, who has some years looking ahead on his contract. Theis is more of a fit on a playoff-caliber team as we saw with the Celtics previously. The Lakers weren’t trying to essentially part with THT for Theis in that expanded trade package discussion after already having reservations about moving two first-round picks to get off Westbrook’s contract. In talking with people around the league, anybody that’s taking on Westbrook wants both of those first-round picks.

Per that reporting, Indiana was trying to dump a negative asset on the Lakers in the form of Daniel Theis, who is already on his third team within the last 12 months, and the Lakers didn’t think it was worth taking on a bad contract if it also meant parting ways with their best young player. Considering the Lakers were able to turn THT into a viable starting guard, that calculus appears to have been correct.

Still, it doesn’t bode well for future Westbrook trades that the price for moving on from him would include not just two first-round picks but an additional asset. That’s a high price for a team trying to build a contender, and potentially an impossible bar for the Lakers to meet now that they’ve already parted ways with Horton-Tucker. If subsequent teams inquire about Austin Reaves or Max Christie, it’s fair to wonder if those would be deal-breakers for L.A.

A second trade with the Jazz? Not for two firsts

With Kyrie Irving off the market, Turner and Hield would seem to be the best consolation prize in a Westbrook trade. However, considering Indiana’s prior trade demands and the fact that THT is no longer available, it makes sense that another team could leapfrog the Pacers as a trade partner.

It therefore comes as little surprise that Jovan Buha of The Athletic believes the Jazz are a more likely landing spot for Westbrook, as he said on the aforementioned HoopsHype podcast:

As far as Westbrook’s trade market, I’ve heard Indiana and Utah are the two most likely destinations. I think Utah is, from what I’ve been told, more likely than Indiana. There are several permutations there with Indiana where it could be Myles Turner and Buddy Hield together or one of the two.

I’ve heard the Lakers are still reluctant to include that second first-round pick. Maybe that’s something that changes closer to training camp. I know it would’ve changed if Kyrie Irving was still available. That would’ve been the one scenario in which the two picks would’ve been on the table. Aside from that, they’re looking at it like, can we do one first-round pick and a couple of seconds or one pick and a protected pick or pick swap?

I think the asking price has been two first-round picks. It’s very clear what the league wants to take on Russ. I think the Lakers can play hardball, but I feel like, at some point, you’ve got to decide whether they want to bring him into training camp with all the potential distractions and the fit issues we saw last season? Or, enter with a blank slate and bring in Turner and Hield or Bogdanovic and something else with new vibes and energy and guys who fit better.

I think they are going to ramp it up (trade talks) before training camp and get more aggressive from what I’ve been told, but whether that aggression includes giving up two first-round picks, I still like they’re going to fight to try to keep that second first-round pick.

If the Lakers’ goal is to move Westbrook for less than two first-rounders, Utah doesn’t seem to be the place to make that happen, considering who runs their basketball operations. Danny Ainge set an impossible market with the Rudy Gobert trade, bringing in four future first-rounders, an already selected 2022 first-round pick, a swap, and multiple current contributors. He’s been reported to “covet” the future Lakers picks, and after making one reasonable deal with L.A. earlier this offseason, probably won’t be making that a pattern.

The problem is that the Lakers don’t have any leverage. If the alternative is to run back an objectively terrible 2021-22 core, eventually they’ll have to pony up and pay the price to reset and bring in suitable complementary players for LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Utah has a few of those in Bojan Bogdanović and perhaps Jordan Clarkson and Jarred Vanderbilt. Whether that’s more appealing than Turner and Hield is an open question, but eventually, the Lakers will have to choose a path out of this mess.

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