Lakers trade scenarios: What I hear about Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley and more
December 15 marked the unofficial start of the nba commercial season.
As of Thursday, an additional 74 players, all of whom were free agents last offseason, have been added to the trade-eligible pool. Approximately 89 percent of the league is now tradeable, opening up considerable options for the los angeles lakers as they try to improve their roster and climb out of their 11-16 hole in the Western Conference standings.
With trade season fast approaching, here’s a brief primer on the Lakers’ current situation, with the necessary caveat that things can change at any time this time of year.
LA Confidential: Why the Lakers probably won’t trade Westbrook; Clippers, Celtics takeout
What players are off the table?
James can’t be traded until next summer due to the timing of the extension he signed this offseason. The Lakers have no interest in trading Davis, especially after his resurgence as a top 10 player and his best player so far this season. Any Davis trade rumors were always premature.
Beyond the two superstars, austin reaves, Lonnie Walker IV, Troy Brown Jr., dear gabriel Y christie max they are young players with team-friendly contracts who have exceeded expectations and are a good fit alongside James and Davis. It’s unlikely any of them will be traded, as the Lakers especially value Reaves and Walker IV as both early and late-level players.
What players are on the table?
Everyone else. But the three prominent names are russell westbrook, patrick beverley Y kendrick nun.
The Lakers only have six players making more than the league minimum salary: Westbrook, James, Davis, Beverley, Walker IV and Nunn. Any notable trade will involve at least one, if not multiple, of those players to match the salary. This is how exchanges work.
Once again, James cannot be traded. Davis is untouchable. Walker IV is proving to be a steal in its mid-tier contract contributor. That leaves the three aforementioned names as the only realistic possibilities.
The Lakers’ interest in trading Westbrook is well documented. That interest is waning, as the athleticby Sam Amick reported this week, but it’s not completely off the table. It becomes more likely the closer the Lakers get to the Feb. 9 trade deadline and teams become desperate to either rack up or lose long-term salary.
Internally, Los Angeles still has concerns about the Westbrook-James combination, especially late in games when opponents have often put their center on Westbrook and ruined the worst offense in time of crisis in the Lakers league.
Beverley has struggled in his second round in Los Angeles, particularly on offense. He is posting career lows in field goal percentage (30.3 percent), 3-point percentage (25.4 percent), 2-point percentage (40.6 percent), effective field goal percentage (38.9 percent) , true shooting percentage (43.9 percent), points (4.6) and assists (2.4). For the first time in his career, Beverley has a negative plus-minus. At 34 years old, it is understandable that he is beginning to decline as a player. But he hasn’t had the impact the Lakers hoped for when they traded him last summer.
Nunn has lost his place in the rotation, playing single-digit minutes in four of the last seven games and not playing completely in two of them. The third-year guard is posting career lows pretty much across the board. He looks like a shell of the player the Lakers envisioned when they signed him during the 2021 offseason.
All three players are underperforming relative to their contracts ($47.1 million for Westbrook, $13.0 million for Beverley and $5.3 million for Nunn).
What are the Lakers looking for?
Size – mainly on the perimeter, although they could use another big — and 3-point shot. Plus, Los Angeles is looking for the kind of upgrade that will make them a contender.
The Lakers’ roster is unbalanced with too many small guards in the rotation. They need to add a wing in the 6-foot-6 to 6-foot-9 range. They also could use an all-around big man who would fit well alongside Davis and put the limited Gabriel in a more suitable role.
The Lakers are always in the market for another star, and a better-fitting third star, even one at guard, is a consideration.
Who are some potential business partners?
In no particular order: Indiana, detroit, Washington, Saint Anthony, chicago, Utah, brooklyn and New York. Each of those teams has a star, wing and/or big man the Lakers are known or reported to be interested in.
What players have been linked to the Lakers?
What the athletic‘s Shams Charania reported earlier this weekthe Lakers have had discussions for the one in Detroit bojan bogdanovicas well as the Knicks Evan Fournier Y reddish cam.
In addition, other names that have emerged are DeMar DeRozan, kyle kuzma, miles turner, friend shield, Kyrie Irving Y Doug McDermott.
All of these players qualify as wings, greats, or stars.
In the ultimate pie-in-the-sky scenario, the Lakers have an interest in Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard Y bradley beal if any of the three stars were available.
What would a commercial package look like?
Regardless of what it is path they take forwardthe Lakers will be trading negative-value players and therefore will have to attach draft capital, likely in the form of one of their two future tradable first-round picks in 2027 or 2029.
This is where things get tricky. The Lakers are technically willing to part with both of their picks if they believe the deal will get them into contention. But it’s not yet clear how far the organization believes they are from that threshold, and what kind of trade would meet that criteria. It’s also unclear how much lower the standard is for trading just one pick compared to both.
Any deal that attaches two picks would likely involve Westbrook, though that could rule out the team moving Beverley and Nunn given the lack of any remaining tradeable first-round picks, unless they were also part of the same trade. The Lakers could make a smaller move using both picks along with Beverley and Nunn, but it’s harder to find a meaningful difference in the $17-22 million range.
Are the Lakers buyers or sellers?
The Lakers are buyers. But his problem is that most of the league is still evaluating whether they want to buy, sell or retain. The Lakers need to find a seller willing to win back the Westbrook and/or Nunn and Beverley contracts (along with draft compensation).
Going down teams that would be willing to trade their veterans make no sense to the Lakers (Detroit, orlando Y houston). Saint Anthony and charlotte are two exceptions, but talks have cooled with both franchises, and the Hornets may still be trying to get into the Tournament entry mix.
The Lakers need one of the aforementioned potential trade partners to change their organizational motivations and/or underperformance, leading them to consider making a trade.
When are the Lakers likely to make a trade?
Not for at least two to four weeks (late December through mid-January), according to multiple league sources with knowledge of his plans.
NBA trade history shows trades don’t happen until January on the early side. Most occur within the last week of the change deadline. There are exceptions, of course, and the Lakers hope to be one of them.
The Lakers have an urgency to reach an agreement as soon as possible. The sooner they improve their roster, the sooner they can change their season. But they’re also at the mercy of the business cycle and the developing motives of the other teams.
There are still several factors that need to be worked out, primarily who the sellers are and how many picks the Lakers are willing to include in certain deals, in the coming weeks.
(Beverley and Westbrook Photo: Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images)