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5 unrealistic trades Lakers must still try to make in 2022 NBA offseason

los angeles lakers rob pelinka lebron james kyrie irving kevin durant anthony davis

The free agency chapter of the Los Angeles Lakers’ summer is complete. The story of their offseason is far from over.

The Lakers have filled 14 of 15 roster spots (not counting two-way contracts). As per usual, the team will likely begin the season with the final spot open for flexibility purposes. That roster, though, is subject to (dramatically) change and remains in need of more talent and, specifically, shooting.

A Russell Westbrook trade looms. The Lakers have been calling around since February in search of a package that either nets a star (see: Kyrie Irving) and/or improves their depth (i.e. Buddy Hield and Myles Turner). So far, Los Angeles has been unwilling to surrender both of their controllable future first-round picks (2027 and 2029) to make it happen.

The NBA’s wheeling and dealing is on pause as the doldrums of summer set in and the Brooklyn Nets figure out the Kevin Durant situation. For fun, though, let’s daydream up a few wacky yet weirdly logical trades for the Lakers.

Note: The Lakers have plenty of future second-rounders and pick swaps to sweeten pots, which could be added to any of the following proposed deals. And while I don’t think the notion of trading 38-year-old LeBron James to spearhead a rebuild is an insane concept from a purely asset-management perspective, it’s not a fathomable scenario, so I’m not going to entertain it…yet.

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Unrealistic Lakers Trades

Ironically, for as “untradable” as Westbrook and his supermax contract have been labeled, the future Hall of Famer has been dealt three times whilst on the deal, and may end up playing for five teams across the five-year contract. Wild.

Therefore, trading Russ — as weak as the market may be — is decidedly not unrealistic. If the Lakers are determined to not deal both firsts, here are a few Westbrook-centered swaps that would, hypothetically, benefit the Lakers.

5) Westbrook, 2029 first (top-1o protected) to the Utah Jazz for Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley Jr.

If the Jazz offload Donovan Mitchell in the wake of the Rudy Gobert blockbuster, their rebuild will officially be on — and they’ll be loaded with draft capital. In that case, perhaps Danny Ainge would take Westbrook’s massive expiring deal and only one first to shed the remaining salary owed to 34-year-old Conley Jr. (two years, $46 million) and 33-year-old Bogdanovic (three years, $56 million).

The Lakers would get two quality role players and floor spacers while keeping the ’27 pick.

4) Westbrook, 2029 first (top-10 protected) to the Charlotte Hornets for Gordon Hayward, Kelly Oubre Jr.

The Hornets want to get off Hayward’s remaining two years and $61 million. Oubre Jr., 26, is on a $12.6 million expiring deal. Once again, the Lakers would deepen their squad while addressing one of their biggest needs: large wings. They’d keep their 2023 cap sheet relatively open (an organizational priority), and their 2024 cap sheet wide open. Plus, they’d be a lock to win the 2023 title.

Terry Rozier or P.J. Washington is a more realistic throw-in, considering Rozier’s long-term money (four years, $96 million) and Washington’s foray into free agency next summer.

3) Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, 2027 first to the Indiana Pacers for Turner, Hield

In reality, the Pacers want two firsts for Turner and, to this point, are unwilling to take Russ unless two firsts are attached.

In this fantasy, Indiana caves and settles for Nunn, THT, a (lightly-protected) ’27 first, and a few swaps and second-rounders to free up long-term money. Rob Pelinka finally reunites with Buddy (his former client), and the Lakers improve their depth and spacing while bringing back two under-3o, not-quite-All-Stars on team-friendly deals. Hield has two years and $40 million left, while Turner is on an $18 million expiring.

2) Anthony Davis, two unprotected firsts for Kevin Durant

The Lakers have signaled a commitment to AD (and Klutch) moving forward, and there’s no indication the Nets would meaningfully humor the above offer, as they’re seeking a hefty platter of young stars and draft capital for Durant. Still, the moment the Lakers learned of Durant’s trade request, Pelinka should have rang Sean Marks and offered AD for KD.

Davis, 29, is five years younger than Durant but his injury woes are increasingly concerning. AD has three years and $120 million left on his deal, while Durant is owed $190 million over the next four seasons.

If the Lakers truly want to maximize LeBron’s championship window, pairing him with Durant is the quickest route back to contention. LeBron and Durant teaming up for their twilight seasons would be the coolest thing to ever happen.

1) All hell breaks loose

Lakers receive: Irving, Bogdanovic

Jazz receive: Westbrook, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, lots of picks and swaps

Nets receive: Mikal Bridges, Horton-Tucker, lots of picks and swaps

Knicks receive: Mitchell, Conley Jr.

Suns receive: Durant, Nunn

This is the framework for what would be the most seismic blockbuster in league history. There would need to be salary-filling players, picks and swaps exchanged throughout, including the Lakers sending out both first-round picks.

Drop the bomb, Woj!