We are now officially less than a month away from the 2023 trade deadline (Feb. 9), with trade rumors starting to surface more and more every day as we get closer to that date. Of course, as with any year, no matter how high or low the team is in the standings, the Lakers have been and will continue to be heavily involved in a multitude of rumors surrounding trade targets.
You’ve likely heard plenty of names already linked to the Lakers, however, we still have some time between now and the deadline for additional players out there to be reported as targets. The following players have not been included in that list of players already connected to the Lakers, however, they’re all likely if not assuredly available with each one bringing something to the team that they need.
Gary Trent Jr.
If you’re thinking that I’ve already made a mistake since the Lakers have already been connected to Gary Trent Jr., well, sorry but you are wrong (kind of). The Lakers were reportedly interested in him prior to last season’s trade deadline, however, they have not been linked to him yet this season.
They may eventually be linked to him as NBA insider Marc Stein recently reported in his Substack that Trent is “undeniably” available despite the fact that the Raptors probably dealing many more players than that despite their current 18-23 record.
Trent’s likely available given the fact that he has an $18.5 million player option for the 2023-24 season with the potential that he’d be wanting a payday this summer after opting out. And honestly, he’d deserve one. He’s averaging a coincidental 18.5 points per game this season (averaged 18.3 PPG last season in a career-high) with most of the points coming from the 2.6 3-pointers he makes per game on a 36.7% percentage.
That mark is actually somewhat low for the career 38.5% shooter, as the Lakers could dramatically improve their team’s 3-point shooting with the sole acquisition of the five-year veteran who will be turning 24 years old this month.
Sadly, you’ll see above that despite a five-year high in the quality of 3-point shot attempts he’s receiving this season, his 3-point shot-making is the lowest it has been since the beginning of that same period (h/t B-Ball Index).
It may cost a first-round pick to get him (with a combination of Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn/Lonnie Walker IV to make the salaries work), and it would mean giving a guy a lofty extension after only a few months of him in the building. However, Trent could come in and be arguably the best 3-point shooter that LeBron James has played with during his time in L.A.
It’s been reported that the Lakers are interested in trading for the Hornets’ PJ Washington, however, I think they should be equally (if not more) interested in another wing from Charlotte: Jalen McDaniels.
On Tuesday, Shams Charania of The Athletic and The Rally reported that the Suns had emerged as a team with interest in trading for McDaniels, but also noted that “several” other teams had become interested in him in recent weeks.
McDaniels is averaging 10.9 points per game in his fourth season in the league, getting a larger role with the Hornets this season. His 3-point shooting isn’t elite by any means (making 34.5% of his 6.3 attempts per game this season), but he’s a good rebounder and playmaker. B-Ball Index indicates that he’s in the 84th percentile in regards to defensive rebounding per 75 possessions (compared to all other rotation-level wings in the NBA) while he currently touts an 11.1% assist percentage. That 11.1% mark would rank 6th on these current Lakers.
In terms of comparing the two, they’re both 24 years old, but McDaniels is an unrestricted free agent this upcoming summer — while Washington would be a restricted free agent. McDaniels may have the upper hand in rebounding and playmaking, but Washington is the better overall scorer right now (15.3 PPG) with his 3-point shooting seemingly better than McDaniels’s.
Given Charania’s report, the Lakers would obviously have competition for McDaniels, but if teams instead pivoted to PJ Washington maybe they could pry him from old friend GM Mitch Kupchak.
I’m not sure what draft compensation McDaniels would command, but with (the currently injured) Kelly Oubre included in the hypothetical deal, the Lakers would just need to send Patrick Beverley by himself or a combined package of Kendrick Nunn and Lonnie Walker.
This player has not been involved in trade rumors... yet. However, I feel it’s only inevitable given how poor the fit has been with him on the New York Knicks in his first season with the team that he signed with just this past summer.
As The Ringer’s Kevin O’Conner illustrates below, the Isaiah Hartenstein project with the Knicks has not gone according to plan. And now, after tallying 20+ minutes on a consistent basis in the first half of the season, Hartenstein has played less than 11 minutes in each of the Knicks’ last two games.
This play last night sums up Isaiah Hartenstein for Knicks fans.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) January 10, 2023
But Hartenstein ran the Clippers' 2nd unit last year. Lots of DHO. He was a connective playmaker. Thibodeau has him do none of that in New York:
Knicks gotta figure it out. pic.twitter.com/RcJDY7Mlk2
As O’Conner also points out, head coach Tom Thibodeau could be mismanaging Hartenstein’s strengths that could be unlocked by the free-flowing Lakers offense.
Hartenstein certainly would not address any of the Lakers’ 3-point woes, but I do think he’s an interesting target for them. He could be a form of Anthony Davis injury insurance, as Hartenstein should be able to prove much more useful in a frontcourt with Thomas Bryant than what Damian Jones has been able to offer this season.
In a hypothetical deal, the Lakers could probably acquire Hartenstein and Cam Reddish — a wing represented by Klutch who may be forever connected to the team — for the price of Patrick Beverley and a couple of second round picks. Kendrick Nunn and Lonnie Walker could replace Beverley, but I’m including Beverley in this example as I think the defensive-minded Thibodeau and the 23-19 Knicks could realistically slot Beverley into the rotation alongside Jalen Brunson — who is a bit inept on that end.
This thought goes along with a lot of the potential trade targets, but I remain skeptical that the Lakers would be fine with Hartenstein’s $8.1 million being on the books for the 2023-24 season (unrestricted free agent in 2024). However, that $8.1 million could be leveraged into a trade this summer, giving the Lakers some flexibility that they wouldn’t have otherwise given how many expiring contracts they currently have on the roster.
And, most importantly, they can finally acquire Cam Reddish so I don’t have to see rumor-after-rumor-after-rumor connecting the two parties together.
The last player I’m going to highlight is a wing on the Washington Wizards, a team that figures to be sellers at the deadline headlined by the probable availability of our old friend Kyle Kuzma.
Will Barton came to the Wizards via the trade that sent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Nuggets during this past offseason. Barton hasn’t started for the Wizards this season, but he was averaging around 20 or so minutes to start the season. That’s much different than his current place in their rotation, as he’s been a healthy scratch in a handful of games over the past month.
As The Athletic’s Josh Robbins notes, Barton is a strong candidate for a buyout if the Wizards do not end up trading him before this deadline. I definitely think the Lakers should be interested in him if he’s on the open market. However, if they don’t want to leave it up to chance, I feel like they could easily trade either Beverley or the Nunn/Walker package with a second-round pick to get him on the team.
The Wizards may be ready to discard him, however, they are flushed with wings while the Lakers are not. If you look above at the data from B-Ball Index, his skillset compares favorably to the three other wings discussed in this article. His 3-point shooting is especially interesting to me (made at least 36.5% of those attempts in each of the last three seasons), as you can see that he is in the highest percentile of the four players in “3PT Shot Making” despite being last in the quality of those looks.
It should be noted that Barton is 32 years old and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but I don’t think it may get much better than him in terms of potentially cheap wings who can shoot from distance.
If you went through this list and thought, “Oh, the Lakers are screwed,” well... yeah, maybe. But this is definitely not the best that the market has to offer. They’ve been tied to much better trade targets through reports — including Bojan Bogdanovic, Kyle Kuzma, Buddy Hield, and Myles Turner. However, the Lakers are going to be competing with other teams with better assets for those players that will be the cream of the trade mill crop.
If they don’t prove to be competitive in the market for those guys, I do think some of the options above would make the Lakers a better team, if not much better in some of the cases.