The Los Angeles Lakers went through a rollercoaster of a 2022-23 season. For a great part of the season, it looked like another twilight year in LeBron James' career would go to waste, as the Lakers had a record below .500 until March 28, 2023 — a grand total of 162 days from their season-opening loss against the Golden State Warriors. (It's only fitting that the Lakers won their last game of the season against the Warriors.)

In spite of this, the Lakers made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals. And a big reason behind their remarkable mid-season turnaround was the blockbuster trade they pulled off during the NBA trade deadline.

For much of the season, plenty of journalists linked the Lakers to a potential trade for the Indiana Pacers' duo of Myles Turner and Buddy Hield in exchange for the expiring contract of Russell Westbrook. The caveat, however, was that the Lakers must relinquish their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks without any protections, effectively gutting the team's already-depleted treasure chest of picks even further.

In the end, the Lakers front office remained patient. Instead of taking the Pacers deal, they waited until the last second for a trade that wouldn't have required them to give up two first-rounders, dealing away Russell Westbrook and a top-four protected first rounder in 2027 for D'Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Malik Beasley. Those three players (the first two especially) played such an instrumental part in filling in the Lakers' need for shooting, playmaking, and defense.

But can the Lakers do it again?

Can the Lakers front office conjure some magic once again in the hopes of acquiring pieces that, this time, would push the Purple and Gold into the title-contending picture?

Here are 3 trade targets for the Lakers with that in mind.

Kyrie Irving

The Lakers may have to bring out The Darkhold to convince the Dallas Mavericks to a sign-and-trade involving Kyrie Irving and D'Angelo Russell. The Mavs, after dealing away two important members of their rotation, in addition to a first-round pick, for Irving will surely want to re-sign the mercurial point guard, if only to protect their investment.

Nevertheless, the Lakers have James' clout working in their favor. If James convinces Irving to team up in Los Angeles, then the Mavs may have no choice but to acquiesce so they won't come away empty-handed.

If the Lakers acquire Kyrie Irving, they're certainly in a strong position to contend for the 2024 NBA championship, especially if they re-sign Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura. Irving is leaps and bounds a better player than D'Angelo Russell, and Russell didn't exactly end the 2023 NBA playoffs on the best note, even earning a demotion to the bench due to his terrible string of performances against the Denver Nuggets.

Meanwhile, Irving has been an incredible postseason performer in the past, and LeBron James certainly knows how to get the best out of him.

Simply put, acquiring Irving, as controversial as he may be off the court, is the undisputed best plausible trade target for the Lakers this offseason.

Dorian Finney-Smith

Can the Lakers channel whatever voodoo powers they had back in 2008 to, yet again, convince another team to trade them a quality player for less than market value? As one may recall, the Lakers traded two first-round picks, a bunch of fodder, and the draft rights to Marc Gasol for Pau Gasol, sending them over the title-contending hump. (Of course, Marc Gasol ended up working out for the Memphis Grizzlies, but they could not have foreseen Gasol's breakout as one of the best centers in the NBA during his peak.)

Of course, Dorian Finney-Smith isn't even close to the caliber of player Gasol was. But the Brooklyn Nets are reportedly looking to acquire a first-round pick (or two) for Finney-Smith, and the Lakers, given their lack of draft assets, may not find doing so for the 3 and D forward to be the best use of their limited draft capital.

However, can the Lakers pull off some Jedi mind tricks towards the Nets front office and persuade them to deal away Finney-Smith for some second-rounders in addition to Malik Beasley's expiring contract?

Finney-Smith has plenty of experience defending some of the best players in the league in the playoffs, and he's a terrific rebounder at the wing. The Mavs sorely missed his presence when they dealt him away. The 30-year old forward's ability to space the floor would then be a godsend. Instead of hoping that Jarred Vanderbilt won't be total zero on offense, they could trot out Finney-Smith and his career 35.7 percent shooting from deep.

John Collins

The Atlanta Hawks have expressed interest in trading for Malik Beasley before, so perhaps that interest is still there. And who knows, maybe the Lakers could insert themselves into a trade for John Collins in the process?

Collins and Anthony Davis should form a deadly inside-and-out duo in the Lakers frontcourt; the current Hawks big man could then also play the role of backup center, with head coach Darvin Ham staggering the two's minutes. Collins should then feast on the openings playmakers such as LeBron James and Austin Reaves (should he re-sign) create.

John Collins' contract may not be the most palatable; his contract runs until 2026 at an average value of around $25 million. But Collins could be such a huge addition to the Lakers frontcourt — especially when Anthony Davis needs to rest or falls prey to the injury bug.