The Lakers have always been a franchise that has gone star-chasing. At their core, they are probably always going to be a team built around stars.
The trade for Russell Westbrook had roots in a desire to form a Big 3 and another superstar. While there may have been some lessons learned that the Lakers applied this past offseason, for example, the Lakers are who they are.
Which is why it probably shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see them linked to a star once again. On Tuesday, Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported that the team could be interested in Donovan Mitchell and Trae Young this offseason.
It’s a plan that can’t be executed until the NBA Draft due to the Pelicans have the right to pick between the Lakers’ 2024 or 2025 first round pick, one of the final vestiges of the Anthony Davis trade. Once that decision is made, the Lakers will have three first round picks they can trade.
The Lakers have discussed internally the possibility of packaging three picks, along with players they already have on their books, to pursue a bona fide star, such as Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers or Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks, team sources told ESPN.
The Lakers have been linked in the past to both Mitchell and Young.
As they were preparing for the offseason last year, reports came out that the Lakers had similar “internal discussions” about trading for Young. Also notable is that he is a Klutch client, which seems to be a recurring trend of late.
With Mitchell, while they haven’t been directly linked to him, they have been indirectly linked. The Lakers tried to get involved in the trade that sent Mitchell to the Cavaliers, though it wasn’t for Mitchell himself. They have shown an openness or willingness to trade for Mitchell in the past as well, but there hasn’t been a lot of substantive connection between the two outside of that.
The math wouldn’t be terribly hard to do when it came to matching salaries as the Lakers have a host of tradeable contracts. However, the question would be how much this plan would factor into any decisions they make at the trade deadline. Do they feel strongly enough about their chances of landing Mitchell or Young to not pull the trigger on a big deal at the deadline and save their picks for an even bigger deal down the road?
It’s a tough choice to make, particularly with LeBron James on the roster and the need to always be competing at the top level so long as he’s around. LeBron, though, has also shown a surprising level of understanding when it’s come to the approach the front office has taken at times in his tenure.
It’s yet another thing for the Lakers to weigh with the pressure of the deadline increasing.
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