The Los Angeles Lakers have spent most of the summer (unsuccessfully) attempting to trade Russell Westbrook, and with training camp just 10 days away, it appears at the very least possible they won’t get anything done on that front. But as their deal options and time to make a move without losing valuable camp time dwindle, the actively tanking Utah Jazz remain one of the last standing, seemingly viable dumping grounds for the team’s highest-paid and least-desired player.
The (tepid) good news for the Lakers, as they try to sort out their suddenly even more guard-heavy roster? It would seem that Utah is still open to a deal, given that both sides have been talking to each other, according to the latest reporting from Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic (emphasis mine):
In recent conversations with the Jazz, the Lakers have targeted [Bojan] Bogdanović, Jordan Clarkson and Malik Beasley, according to league sources. The Lakers’ desire to land the Pacers’ Buddy Hield has also been well-chronicled, with the former Kings guard nearly coming their way via trade last summer. The 29-year-old 3-point specialist has been a focal point in the Lakers’ offseason talks with Indiana as well — alongside Myles Turner — but a deal is not expected on that front.
A deal with Indiana seeming unlikely isn’t a huge shock at this point, given how little noise there has been on that front in recent weeks.
But the team’s interest in Bogdanović also makes a ton of sense, as he is a 6’8 forward who is a career 39.2% 3-point shooter. At that size and with those capabilities, he would fill a void on the wing where the Lakers are currently so thin that Austin Reaves (who was generously listed at 6’5, 206 lbs. last season) is their projected backup small forward:
The lineup decisions to come will be Darvin Ham's, league sources say, but as it stands on Sept. 16: The Lakers head to training camp viewing Westbrook and Schroder as lead guards, PatBev as another 2-guard alongside Kendrick Nunn and Austin Reaves as a 3 behind LeBron James. https://t.co/sTQx9kE6ur— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 16, 2022
As for Clarkson, as both a Klutch Sports client and former Laker, he checks the boxes this team generally tries to look for in its additions. He would also provide some extra scoring punch for the team, although it's unclear how much more of that they need from guards, even assuming that Westbrook would be heading to Utah for him.
When discussing any possible Beasley addition, it is worth noting that he pled guilty following a 2020 incident in which he “is alleged to have aimed a rifle at a couple and their teenage daughter in an SUV outside his Plymouth home, where a large stash of marijuana and other guns were seized by police,” according to The Minneapolis Star Tribune.
There is no easy way to transition from that acknowledgment, but there are also other, gossip-columny reasons his addition could be awkward in the locker room for Lakers two-way player Scotty Pippen Jr., for whatever that’s worth.
All this is to say that overall, even if solely judging on the basketball front, this trade package would be imperfect. Still, the Lakers are past the point in the summer — and in their relationship with Westbrook, and in his value as an NBA player — where perfect options are available.
But is this deal worth both their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks? I would argue almost certainly not, and definitely not in a vacuum. However, given that Utah reportedly only wants to do a deal with the Lakers that nets them both picks, it also may be the team’s only option if they want to get off of Westbrook before training camp. So we’ll see what happens in the days and weeks to come and if either side is willing to budge.
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