With the NBA trade deadline less than four days away, we are slowly getting more and more details about what the Lakers are considering. And just like we have gotten reports about which teams the front office is eyeing as they look to improve the purple and gold’s postseason chances, we also are slowly receiving a few more details about how they view the rest of their roster in such discussions with opposing GMs.
Much of that information has come from the reliable and informative Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who wrote over the weekend that in addition to the widely known reality that the team is shopping Patrick Beverley, the Lakers are also making Lonnie Walker IV available (emphasis mine):
James-Davis-Irving would be the best trio in the league, and while the Lakers’ supporting cast obviously has certain limitations and glaring holes, a group of Harris, Hachimura, Reaves, Schröder, Thomas Bryant, Troy Brown Jr., Lonnie Walker IV and Patrick Beverley is solid enough that the Lakers can piece together a useful rotation. (Beverley and Walker IV could also be included in an Irving package or a separate deal to further upgrade the rotation, league sources tell The Athletic.)
Those two players couldn’t be included in a deal for Irving that the Lakers weren’t able to make, but them being available (especially in Walker’s case) is notable nonetheless. Beverley, by default of his $13 million contract, was always going to be one of the few options the team had for salary ballast to improve their roster, replacing Talen Horton-Tucker in the Ol’ Reliable of Lakers Trade Rumors: THT and Kendrick Nunn.
And with Nunn gone, it would seem his fellow Klutch Sports mid-level signee is his own replacement in Rob Pelinka’s phonebook-pitched pu pu platter, a steep fall from grace for a player who was almost universally viewed as one of the silver linings amidst the Lakers’ poor start to the year. However, after missing several weeks with a calf injury, the team may have realized they have enough guards and decided to check around to see what they can get for one of just six players on their roster not on a minimum contract.
On the other side of things, Buha’s follow-up story on how the Irving talks fell apart from Sunday night revealed that there were two players that the team hasn’t quite deemed untouchable, but despite the Nets wanting both players, Pelinka, Kurt Rambis and Co. weren’t willing to throw them in for Irving without assurances Irving would agree to the exact type of contract they wanted:
Second, the Lakers were not willing to include Austin Reaves and/or rookie Max Christie in the deal if Irving was not going to agree to the two-year contract extension, according to league sources. The Lakers view both players as key members of their young supporting cast, not merely throw-ins. They were only considering including one of them if they had assurances Irving wouldn’t just be a second-half rental.
New @TheAthleticNBA: On the Lakers’ missed opportunity for Kyrie Irving, three of the sticking points with the Nets (including Austin Reaves and Max Christie), Utah and Toronto being linked to LA, the pressure to upgrade the roster and more: https://t.co/L8sY16hGw3— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) February 6, 2023
So while that doesn’t exactly mean the Lakers are unwilling to discuss Reaves or Christie, it does indicate that they aren’t going to just toss them in to get a deal they already feel is reasonable over the finish line.
As I wrote on Friday, that news is unsurprising when you view the Lakers as a prism for Pelinka to either bolster his own resume and longevity beyond 2026 with organizational wins (technically making the final decision to sign/draft both Reaves and Christie, respectively) and point the fingers at others for mistakes (not trading them to fix “LeBron and AD’s Russ trade”) in order to attain maximum possible job security. Still, it does mean we probably shouldn’t expect to see either player headed anywhere else by Thursday at noon local time.
For all the latest heading into the NBA trade deadline, check out our Silver Screen and Roll Lakers trade rumors tracker.