The Lakers have been linked to the Jazz in NBA trade rumors a few times over the last several days, with reports that the team has discussed sending Russell Westbrook to Utah, considered acquiring Jazz veteran Mike Conley, and that they see the Jazz as one of five main possible trade partners in the wake of Kyrie Irving being sent elsewhere, along with the Bulls, Raptors, Hornets and Spurs.
Our latest hint at what a trade package between the two teams might look like comes from Tim MacMahon of ESPN, who did a big story on the Jazz’s surprising start and upcoming potential activity in the trade market. In it, he gave us our first definitive details of what Los Angeles and Utah have discussed:
For example, sources said the Jazz have had discussions about a deal in which a combination of rotation players including Conley and Beasley would go to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for 2027 and 2029 first-round picks and Russell Westbrook, who would likely receive a buyout instead of joining the Jazz.
I mean this with all due respect, but while normally, when we guess where information is coming from, we usually have to look at past history of scoops, which teams and/or agents a reporter covers most closely and more, here it’s a little easier. Because, while MacMahon — one of my favorite NBA reporters to listen to, and genuinely hilarious on “The Hoop Collective” podcast — does use “sources” to slightly obscure which person told him this, he not only covers the Jazz as one of his several NBA beats, but quotes exclusive interviews with powerful franchise figures like Jazz CEO Danny Ainge, owner Ryan Smith and head coach Will Hardy throughout the story this tidbit is reported in.
Trader Danny Ainge is in his element two days before the deadline: “We're in control, and we feel like we've got to be smart about the decisions that we make."— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 7, 2023
ESPN story from my recent sitdown with Jazz owner Ryan Smith, GM Justin Zanik and Ainge: https://t.co/wiAGhBT0rA
In short, it is really, really hard not to guess that this is the Jazz’s retelling of talks with the Lakers.
I point all this out not to imply that the information is fake by any means. I actually, 100% believe that the Jazz and Lakers would have had talks like this. If you throw in Jarred Vanderbilt and take out one first-round pick, it is almost exactly the logical trade our own Alex Regla predicted when word first leaked that the two teams were talking on Friday.
Just from money matching purposes, a couple configurations work for a Lakers/Jazz trade, but I would assume it would be some type of framework like this: https://t.co/1FLgcQ3n9A pic.twitter.com/SPpTeOGU3w— Alex Regla (@AlexmRegla) February 3, 2023
What must be noted, however, is that while I believe that Jazz are asking for two first-round picks for that type of package from the Lakers — Ainge, author of one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history, is never afraid to aim high in deals — I am less convinced that the Lakers would actually send both picks to Utah for this kind of middling return. So maybe the teams have discussed such a trade by virtue of trade discussions featuring one side asking for things, and the other side asking for others, until they either fall apart or meet somewhere in the middle, but I have a harder time believing this exact permutation will happen.
Basically, while the Jazz may believe those players are worth one first-round pick each, I have a harder time buying that Rob Pelinka — who has said he only wants to make a trade featuring both picks that makes the Lakers the “frontrunner” for the NBA title — views this return as the type of package that would vault the Lakers towards championship favorites. I have been wrong many, many times before about this crazy team, but I am confident that if there is a Lakers/Jazz deal to be had, even one that resembles this, it would likely only feature one of the 2027 or 2029 first-round picks that the Lakers can trade right now.
Thankfully, with the NBA trade deadline just a little more than 48 hours away as of this writing, we will find out one way or another soon enough.
For all the latest heading into the NBA trade deadline, check out our Silver Screen and Roll Lakers trade rumors tracker.