The Los Angeles Lakers have been linked to a ton of players as the NBA trade deadline approaches on Thursday, but just like the last few days have seen a few new reports of which teams they are targeting trades with and how they view their own personnel, Monday also brought us a couple of new names actually being reported as potential targets for the team for the first time: Fred VanVleet, Bogdan Bogdanovic (not to be confused with the oft-linked Bojan, who is not related) and Mike Conley.
In addition to confirming what we all expected — that Russell Westbrook “remains in trade conversations, according to people with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly” — the latest story from Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times also confirmed Jovan Buha of The Athletic’s report from the weekend that Patrick Beverley and Lonnie Walker IV are being shopped around in search of upgrades.
But potentially juiciest in Woike’s new story? The aforementioned list of possible targets that included a few familiar names, as well as a couple that had previously only been speculated about:
Toronto guards Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr., Atlanta guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, Detroit forward Bojan Bogdanovic (who the Pistons have said repeatedly isn’t available unless they’re blown away by an offer), Charlotte guard Terry Rozier and Utah guard Mike Conley are all viewed as possibilities depending on how the market shakes out between now and Thursday’s trade deadline.
Other names could emerge by the deadline as well.
The Lakers try to pick up the pieces after their Kyrie Irving pursuit - here is what I’m hearing that could mean next https://t.co/CUdiVtsR6L— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) February 7, 2023
Conley has been seen as a logical target amidst all the Lakers’ links to the Jazz, but this is the most definitively his name has been reported so far. At 35 years old, Conley is nowhere near what he once was, but the career 38.1% 3-point shooter and heady veteran would fit well next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and only $14 million of his $24 million for next season is guaranteed. He could theoretically help this season, and as a trade chip/saving coupon this summer to help the front office chase more upgrades.
VanVleet is the best player named here, and it’s not even certain the six-year veteran will be moved at the deadline. However, if he was available, it seems likely the Lakers would have to give up both of their first-round picks to get him, even though he is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer and is having a down year statistically (although he’s picked it up a bit over his last 15 games, shooting 38.6% from deep on 8.5 attempts per game en route to 21.6 ppg to go with 7.3 assists).
VanVleet’s market will still be competitive if the Raptors make him available though, with the Clippers and his former teammate Kawhi Leonard also reportedly interested. Trading significant assets for him would be a gamble, but a steady, defensively willing point guard who has shot 37.6% from three over the course of his career could be worth the investment as a fit next to James and Davis for the rest of this year and the year(s) to come.
Bogdan Bogdanovic is also an interesting name. A career 38.2% 3-point shooter, Bogdanovic is having a bit of a down year in terms of efficiency for the Horrendous Vibes Hawks, but would still likely give the Lakers better spacing around their stars than they have now. He could end up being an expensive rental — he can opt out of a player option worth $18 million next year — and at 30 years old might be a gamble to invest in, but he is also a 6’6 shooting guard, so he would at least give L.A. slightly more size in the backcourt. He’s not exactly a small forward, but he’s closer to it than most of the guys masquerading there for the Lakers on a nightly basis.
The common theme among all these additions? After abandoning lame, nerdy concepts like “floor spacing” and “lineup fit” for the last several years, the Lakers at least seem to be looking into the revolutionary concept of acquiring guys that could fit alongside their two best players in closing lineups instead of trying to devote as many resources per game as they can to lose the minutes LeBron sits less spectacularly. It’s not going to bring back the role players they exiled to Washington and elsewhere around the northern hemisphere, but the Lakers may just have finally cracked the code to building around James and Davis that they accidentally fell into in 2020.
And hey, that’s progress.
What would you think of these latest potential targets? Let us know in the comments below, and for all the latest heading into the NBA trade deadline, check out our Silver Screen and Roll Lakers trade rumors tracker.