The trade deadline is on Feb 8. and a lot will change throughout the league between then and now. It's no secret the Lakers are interested in making a move and have even engaged in trade talks with Atlanta over Dejounte Murray.
But what is the Lakers' goal this trade deadline? What do they need and how can they get it? Let's take a closer look at what's possible.
Before diving in, remember the key to trade creation: a scenario in which both parties would benefit and have a reason to say yes. Often, fans will take their biggest disappointment and trade for another team's best player, outplaying their contract. It's not just about matching salaries. It has to make sense beyond the dollars.
The path to Zach LaVine
Based on reports so far, the Lakers want to upgrade the guard position. They want a player who can score on their own, shoot well from three and be an offense initiator. Zach LaVine is far from perfect and his contract is abysmal, but he does fit many of these qualities. This is why he's been connected to the Lakers even though recent reports say there's 'a zero percent chance' the Lakers will trade for LaVine.
The asking price for him is just too high, given his defensive flaws and being in the second year of a five-year $215 million deal. For both parties to agree, it would likely be a deal where the Lakers acquire LaVine and the Bulls receive D'Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, Gabe Vincent and the 2025 first-round pick. You need Russell and Hachimura’s contracts just for the math to work and that seems to be a hefty price to pay.
That doesn't seem worth it to give LeBron James another shot, nor do I think it helps you long-term, but if the Lakers want to make the move, this is may be it takes to get it done.
The path to Dejounte Murray
Murray is a much more appealing option for the purple and gold. He's on a four-year, $120 million deal, is a much younger player and has a higher ceiling. The rumored asking price is high and both teams seem far apart, but there are still weeks of potential negotiations.
Both teams have reason to make the trade. Atlanta's backcourt of Trae Young and Murray hasn't been successful together as they are currently 16-23. With Young being their star, they main focus on building a winner around him.
For Los Angeles, their record isn't much better at 20-21 and adding Murray could turn things around enough to give Los Angeles a shot at competing in the West.
To acquire Murray and have both parties satisfied, it’s going to require concessions from both sides. The Lakers could trade Reaves, but they’ve made it clear they'd want more than Murray if they're giving him up. And the Hawks seem to want Reaves and more to move Murray especially given how much they traded to the San Antonio Spurs to get Murray to begin with.
For Atlanta to agree, a package featuring Reaves, Prince, Vincent, Reddish and Hayes should be enough to get a deal done, but that takes away so many assets that it’s hard to see that as a net positive for Los Angeles, even if there are players like Clint Capela or Bogdan Bogdanović coming back.
Fans focus on the big names but sometimes a few singles can lead to more scoring than just swinging for the fences. So, I looked at players who could help the Lakers in the margins but aren't necessarily the biggest names.
Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O'Neal are quality players who can score, spread the floor and give the Lakers size. A trade using Vincent, Prince, Hood-Schifino and Cam Reddish improves the team. It also still leaves you key assets like Russell, Hachimura and Reaves to deal for a player like Murray. This is more of a move in the margins and still allows you to swing for a star elsewhere.
If L.A. wants a splashier move, they can trade for Terry Rozier. A deal straight up with Russell involved works and maybe they can throw in a second to compel the Hornets to make the move. Rozier may not be the biggest name, but he's a certified bucket and a primary ball handler.
Two things have been true for several years now: Kyle Kuzma still wants to be a Laker and the Lakers still have interest in him. Can they bring him home? The pairing of him and Jordan Poole is entertaining but not conducive to winning.
If they want to move on from Kuzmania, the Lakers could trade away Russell and Hood-Schifino to make that happen. Kuzma isn't a primary ball handler but can score and understands his role under Anthony Davis and James. He understands what it means to be a Laker and loves being one, so I think you'd get the best version of himself in a return.
It’s been reported by Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report that the Wizards would want two first-round picks for Kuzma and that seems too hefty of a price. But, again, it’s part of the negotiation game.
We still have weeks to go before the dust settles on trades and what this team will look like in the season's home stretch. These trades show examples of what is possible and what options are available to the Lakers, depending on who they are willing to move on from.
This team has had big wins against the Los Angeles Clippers, have beaten the Oklahoma City Thunder twice and won the NBA In-Season Tournament.
They have top-tier talent and despite being sub .500 on the year, you can see a scenario where a couple of modifications put them back in contention. They have to hit on these trades to make that happen, so let's see if vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka can pull another rabbit out of his hat this trade deadline.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.