IS Zach LaVine a realistic trade target for the LA Lakers? Russell Westbrook’s package (which becomes major cap relief) and the two first-round picks of 2027 and 2029 are still in her bag. If the Lakers want to compete this season, that’s the advantage they have to move the needle.
To be clear, Rui Hachimura is a marginal upgrade and doesn’t improve her status that much. So the price they paid for him was fair. However, assuming there is intent to re-sign Hachimura, their cap space will be hit. You may no longer get a max level player even after Westbrook is traded.
Side note: The pursuit of Kyrie Irving is over. Irving is likely to re-sign with the Nets, and seeing Irving’s magic moves again could rock the Nets’ front office. This guy knows how to play, and at the end of the day, that’s all you really want.
Was that the plan all along? LaVine is a client of sports agency Klutch and will always be considered in LeBron’s team. It’s not like James is collecting all of their customers, they just traded Kendrick Nunn away, but LaVine would definitely be better.
Originally, the Lakers thought they could get a player like Bradley Beal for this package, but that’s unrealistic. LaVine is a more likely target. He may not be ideal defensively, but the Lakers believe Anthony Davis is solving most of their holes. LaVine is a borderline All-Star, but more of a goalscorer. The Lakers have scorers, but if they really want to score this year, this is probably their best bet.
Wanted: Playoff veteran point guard
The value of a reliable point guard is increased in the playoffs. When the season starts, teams want explosive, high-potential guards like Tyrese Maxey. But when you already have your top scorers, having an exhilarating point guard with nothing else to prove can be invaluable. Just don’t give him a $120 million contract.
Two players are likely targets: Mike Conley and Fred VanVleet. Pundits would say the Conley trade is overdue simply because the Utah Jazz are easing. However, due to their great start, the Jazz reconsidered, and then they had a reality check.
Trader Danny Ainge will hold out until Conley hits the top and that is the deal deadline. If the buyers are already defined, they would understand that a playoff veteran like Conley will have a role to play in the closing minutes.
The other target is VanVleet. The Toronto Raptors became the underdogs in the grueling Eastern Conference. However, the front office should be cautious and not overreact. They’re just having a bad season, they’re not necessarily a bad team. However, you should try to upgrade.
Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes are taboo even as the former Rookie of the Year slumps into a sophomore year. VanVleet is the player on the bubble. He’s good enough to keep, but there are teams that might overpay for him, especially rivals who need another slice.
VanVleet is definitely a piece that any competitor can use in crucial playoff moments. He played Clutch as a fourth or fifth option when the Raptors won the 2019 title and also did well when he was pushed into a bigger role. There’s no urgency to trade him, but with a disappointing season, Masai Ujiri is definitely opportunistic and unlikely to keep a player for any reason other than contributing to the win.
Shorts: The warriors are not contenders and they must trade to regain contender status. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. The only way to fix that is to swallow another bitter pill: that they made a mistake on James Wiseman. The warriors should take a “can’t win them all” attitude and trade it in for a figure they can actually use now.