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Lakers linked to Buddy Hield, Gary Trent Jr., Kobe Bufkin in latest NBA trade rumors

The Lakers are being linked to a few familiar faces as the 2023 NBA Draft draws nearer.

Graphic via Zain Fahimullah / Silver Screen and Roll

Update: With likely less than an hour before the Lakers are on the clock, the latest NBA trade rumors are that the Brooklyn Nets are the most likely trade partner for the purple and gold.

Jovan Buha of The Athletic had the update in the outlet’s live blog:

The team that has come up the most in conversations over the last 24 hours as a potential trade partner for the Lakers has been the Brooklyn Nets, according to league sources. The Nets have the No. 21 and 22 picks in the draft, presenting the Lakers an opportunity to trade back and recoup another asset. Brooklyn also has a plethora of 3-and-D wings that the Lakers are interested in, including Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale, two players that have been linked to LA in recent days.

O’Neale and Finney-Smith were linked by the reports mentioned below, and Buha also reported the latest names the Lakers are likely to take if they keep their pick:

Additionally, Jordan Hawkins, who The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie has projected to go to the Lakers at No. 17, is a player who has been gaining buzz as the Lakers’ likely selection if they keep their pick, according to league sources. Hawkins joining the likes of Kobe Bufkin, Dereck Lively II, Jett Howard, Nick Smith Jr. and Noah Clowney as mid-first round prospects LA is interested in.

Original story follows below.

With just a few hours to go until the 2023 NBA Draft, we are perilously close to finding out what the Los Angeles Lakers will actually do with their No. 17 pick. Will they trade it for veterans they’ve been linked to, like Buddy Hield? Will they trade back in order to get multiple players they like? Will they try to move up into the lottery?

We don’t know just yet, but on Thursday morning, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported the latest he’s hearing about the Lakers’ possible intentions, and he dropped a number of notable names to keep an eye on:

Put the Lakers in a similar category of trade variance. Los Angeles has held discussions about moving up into the lottery, with some rival personnel believing the target is Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin. The Lakers have also had preliminary conversations with several teams about trading No. 17 plus the salary of Malik Beasley and/or Mo Bamba in exchange for veteran talent and perhaps a later draft selection. A few names to keep an eye on: Toronto guard Gary Trent Jr., Pacers guard Buddy Hield and Brooklyn swingman Dorian Finney-Smith, sources said.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN confirmed that the Lakers have been active in discussions about their pick:

Bufkin is not one of the first-round prospects that Los Angeles was recently revealed to have secretly worked out, but that hardly makes it a certainty that they a) didn’t work him out and keep it under wraps or b) don’t have interest. As a player named Kobe from Rob Pelinka’s own alma mater, this front office may have a hard time resisting at least the attempt to move up and select him.

SB Nation’s own Ricky O’Donnell ranked Bufkin as the 17th-best prospect in the draft, which means its at least theoretically possible that he could be available without trading up, but he’s also been a late riser in the process according to most buzz, and as a result, Ricky projected him going 12th to the Oklahoma City Thunder in his final mock draft, and he went 13th to the Toronto Raptors in our network-wide mock.

Our friends over at our Michigan sister site, Maize N Brew, broke down his strengths and weaknesses well.

As for the possible NBA trade targets here, our own Alex Regla actually named Hield and Trent as two possible names that made sense in deals last weekend, and outlined why they could be logical for both sides (although, with all due respect to Alex, Lakers fans following trade rumors for the last two years also probably could have told you that Pelinka would pursue his former client Hield again if at all possible).

As for Trent, he (somewhat unexpectedly) opted into his $18.5 million player option on Tuesday, meaning that the Raptors could send him somewhere on draft night or afterward, and as a Klutch Sports client that the Lakers have been linked to before who is a willing shooter and capable wing defender, he ticks a lot of boxes as a believable target.

If the rumors of the Lakers trying to trade back and get multiple picks prove correct, then Dorian Finney-Smith might be another name that makes sense here. According to our friends over at Nets Daily, Brooklyn has been trying to package their 21st and 22nd picks in the first round with Finney-Smith or Royce O’Neale in an attempt to move up in the draft. Would 17 be high enough for whoever they’re targeting? Who knows, but that could be why we’re hearing the two sides linked as possible partners, especially with Finney-Smith filling a need for the Lakers on the wing.

Will any of these deals happen? The odds-on favorite is, of course, “no,” just because rumors are much more common than actual trades. But all of these specific names have a degree of realism to them, so anything is possible, and we know from Pelinka’s history that he loves a good draft day trade. We’ll see what happens as we get closer to the team getting on the clock (for now) at No. 17.

The 2023 NBA Draft will begin at 5 p.m. PT on Thursday night.

You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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