Trade season is heating up, which means the Los Angeles Lakers — the only franchise, maybe outside the Miami Heat, that seemingly every player in the NBA would happily play for — are starting to be name-dropped into rumors, however unfeasible.
The NBA trade deadline is Thursday, Feb. 10. On Dec. 15, a slew of recently-signed players — including Kendrick Nunn — become eligible to be traded. Another group of players — including Talen Horton-Tucker — are eligible to be dealt on Jan. 15. Here we go.
On Monday, in Shams Charania’s latest roundup of league scuttle-butt in The Athletic, the Lakers were mentioned as having an interest in two All-Star caliber players on the market: Philadelphia 76ers outcast Ben Simmons and Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant.
Let’s address each item individually, and whether the Lakers could presumably acquire either player.
1) Ben Simmons
Here was Shams on Simmons:
“The 76ers are ramping up their efforts to spark multi-team trade scenarios to move Simmons, sources said, and a fresh pool of teams has emerged as potential destinations.
The New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers are among the teams interested in Simmons, sources said, although it’s unclear how much traction Philadelphia truly has on any move.”
Shams’ report aligns with Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe‘s reporting on Daryl Morey’s increased aggressiveness to trade the disgruntled star.
As a two-team deal, there is no feasible path for the Lakers to acquire Simmons, who is due $33 million in 2021-22. For financial reasons, Los Angeles (over the cap) would have to include either LeBron James (not happening), Anthony Davis (not happening), or Russell Westbrook (not happening, for the 76ers, one would assume) in the deal.
A package of THT ($9.5 million), Nunn ($5 million), and eight(?) veteran minimum players is a) not going to entice Morey, and b) not actually possible, due to roster limitations. (The Lakers cannot trade a first-round pick before 2027, though they have a few second-rounders to spend.)
The cap gymnastics and hodge-podges of asset packages that can be entertained in 4-5 team deals is tough to hypothetically comprehend. However, in all likelihood, the Lakers supposed “interest” in Simmons is a tactic by his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, flexing his leverage with the Lakers to attempt to boost the value for his client.
Remember, Paul has considerable sway with the Lakers, and the benefits go both ways. LeBron, AD, and THT are Klutch clients. Paul threw the Lakers a bone last summer by convincing Montrezl Harrell to pick up his player option a week early in order to approve a trade to the Wizards (KCP is also his client).
Ben Simmons to the Lakers? Not happening.
2) Jerami Grant
The Jerami Grant scenario is more realistic and less political. Here was Shams:
“Jerami Grant is one of the most sought-after players in a potential trade, with the Lakers and Trail Blazers among the teams pursuing the Pistons’ versatile forward, sources said. Grant will miss extended time with torn ligaments in his right thumb, but that is not expected to impact his trade market. Dozens of teams call the Detroit front office about Grant each week, and sources said the team is open to a possible deal.
Grant has one season remaining on his deal after this campaign and is eligible for a four-year extension worth up to $112 million in the offseason.”
Grant is expected to miss up to six weeks with a thumb injury. Evidently, that is not scaring teams away. In fact, it may slightly lower his cost of acquisition.
The Lakers can make the salaries work here. THT, Nunn, the $2.5 million trade exception they have from the Marc Gasol trade, along with a minimum deal or two can get close enough to Grant’s salary. On paper, Grant is a clean fit: a young-ish, rangy stretch-4 may be just what the Lakers need.
The question is: would the Lakers part with Horton-Tucker? They didn’t include him in trade talks for Kyle Lowry, who is a better and more proven playoff performer than Grant. Of course, that’s up to Rob Pelinka, LeBron James, and co. to decide. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Detroit would be enticed by a THT/Nunn/2027 first-rounder/second-round picks package.
We’re just getting going here.