The Los Angeles Lakers have been connected to DeMar DeRozan, Gary Trent Jr. and Zach LaVine in trade rumors before. But as the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline approaches, a few of the most reputable NBA insiders are once again linking those three to the purple and gold in various capacities.
Let’s dig into the latest reports.
Lakers have Gary Trent Jr. on their radar... again
In the grand tradition of the Lakers being linked to deals for Toronto Raptors guards that goes back three trade deadlines now, Gary Trent Jr. is a repeat target. The Lakers registered interest in Trent last season before ultimately opting to not make any deadline moves, and our own Donny McHenry predicted him as a repeat potential trade target earlier this year.
And sure enough, the Lakers are considering a deal for Trent again, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who reported on the latest episode of his “Please Don’t Aggregate This” podcast — as always, sorry Jake — that he has heard that the Lakers have some level of interest in Trent this season (as always, emphasis mine):
“I have been told that Trent is at least on the Lakers’ radar. I don’t know if they have actually called Toronto and had active conversations about it, things that actually move the needle, but I’ve been told and believe from credible folks (that) maybe it’s not a lusting desire for Gary Trent, but he at least seems to be someone they’re monitoring. But maybe that’s also just someone from a certain agency suggesting that. Maybe that’s all it is. But we shall see.”
As we have covered extensively, it’s pretty rare that a rumored Lakers target exists outside of three buckets:
- Former Laker
- Former Rob Pelinka client
- Current Klutch Sports client
Rui Hachimura was a rare exception there, but Trent is not. He falls into that final grouping as a Klutch client, which is likely what Fischer was noting with that last part of his statement.
Trent is shooting just 36.8% on threes this year, but is a career 38.5% shooter from deep, and one we know for a fact that Rob Pelinka and the league-pass-less front office have seen play well by virtue of him shooting 41.7% from deep against them in the first round of the playoffs during their 2020 title run. Trent has also been in trade rumors seemingly all season for the Raptors, so he may be reinvigorated in a situation where he feels wanted.
Is he worth the team attaching one of their two tradeable first-rounders for? If Pelinka’s standard is only attaching those picks if the move makes the team a title favorite, maybe not. But given his age — Trent, at just 24 years old, is one of eight sets of NBA fathers and sons to both play against LeBron James, and could become the first to be his teammate if this deal went through — his affordable contract moving forward ($16 million this season, $17.2 million next, $18.5 million player option for 2023-24, per Spotrac) and the fact that he’s a Klutch client, expect the team to sniff around and see if they can add him.
The Lakers have been waiting to see if the Bulls make Zach LaVine or DeMar DeRozan available for months
On the latest episode of “The Lowe Post,” ESPN insiders Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelburne also discussed trade season around the league, and confirmed something long since hinted at by even a small degree of dot-connecting, but never this directly confirmed: That the Lakers were, and are, hoping the Bulls blow it up and make one or both of their two formerly Los Angeles-based superstars available in a deal.
Lowe: “I would posit this to you: The Lakers have had their eye on the Bulls since September.”
Lowe: “Since September, the Lakers have been saying ‘we want to see what happens if that team craps the bed this season, what might shake loose.’ And you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to understand that in September, that meant DeRozan. The free agent who wasn’t. The free agent who almost was. And instead became Russ. The name that has become more interesting to me as the season has gone on and it’s become clearer and clearer that the Bulls are not gonna get it together is LaVine.”
Lowe: “Who is a Klutch client, who is on a gigantic contract. Who I know there has been some thought about with people around the Lakers as a potential trade/that’s kind of our cap space acquisition. Obviously they sacrificed a lot of cap space potentially on Hachimura, which I read that also as a signal that maybe the Kyrie thing is over for them too.”
Again, both LaVine (Klutch client) and DeRozan (a former Lakers in his own heart) fit in the rumored target boxes for this front office, especially if we add in the fourth commonality among most reports about who the team is interested in and/or adds: certified buckets/stars. Rob Pelinka loves himself a player who can score a lot of points and has made All-Star teams.
Still, before anyone gets too excited and/or angry about more star-chasing from this front office, both Lowe and Shelburne threw some water on the possibility of the Lakers actually adding LaVine — at least at midseason — when Lowe asked how real Shelburne sees the possibility:
Shelburne: “I think the Lakers would be among several teams that would be looking at LaVine... Teams that really need another playmaker, a guy who can score a guy that’s got some oomph to his game. Now he’s younger, but it’s just a lot of money... You don’t just take on a contract like that for a one-year deal, you’re committing to $200-plus million and that’s your guy for a long time. So I generally think deals like that don’t get done at the deadline. With that much money on the deal, it’s a hard one to do in the middle of the year.”
Lowe: “I would agree. Now Chicago keeps their cards pretty close to the vest, but my read on them has been that they don’t even want to hear this discussion. They don’t want to contemplate that this team might be a failure. They don’t want to contemplate breaking it up in any real sense.”
All of which brings us to our final rumor/tidbit...
If the Lakers are going to do another deal, it will likely be a smaller one
On the same episode of The Lowe Post, Shelburne also reported that based on what she’s heard, the Lakers are only going to make a big move if another team proposes something that hasn’t been on the table yet:
“I think they are going to try to do something else of the same magnitude (as the Hachimura move)... I think that’s about right. I don’t see anything big. The way it’s been phrased to me is they’re going to listen, but if it’s something big, it’s probably not something they’re proposing. It’s probably something somebody comes to them with to loop them in on something. Like the Hachimura trade, that’s a good trade for them, but it’s not a large-scale (move).”
Now, is that just more posturing from the front office? We’ll see over the next two weeks.
As always, you can check out all the latest reports and rumors of who the Lakers are connected to at our trade deadline tracker. What do you think of these latest reports? Do any of these targets interest you more or less than they have before? Let us know in the comments below.