Why a Lakers trade for a third star won’t be so easy for the franchise – Orange County Register
Editor’s Note: This is the Thursday, July 30 edition of reporter Kyle Goon’s Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, register here.
There’s a natural assumption in the NBA, backed by decades of evidence: Where there’s a disgruntled star, the Lakers remain positioned behind the scenes, ready to melt and tear it up.
From Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaquille O’neal at Anthony davis, it’s understandable that fans can stray into overconfidence when it comes to garnering talent, and recent deals such as James Harden in Brooklyn might give the impression that the soil is fertile for more. Now with Ben Simmons on unstable ground in Philadelphia after an exit from the playoffs in the second round, and Damian Lillard looks bristly after coach hire goes wrong, it seems on the surface that the Lakers could make their way to a third star to put alongside Davis and LeBron James.
The question that kills this dream is simple: How? ‘Or’ What?
The Lakers may have the allure of Southern California and a rich history in free agency basketball, but when it comes to making successful trades, every team needs assets. And the Lakers just don’t have that many right now.
Take a peek inside the Lakers’ war chest: The Lakers have the No.22 first-round pick this season and a first-round pick in 2027 (and really, who knows how bad the Lakers will be. good or bad in six years?). They technically have first-round picks in 2023 and 2025 (subject to New Orleans selection trades) they cannot trade due to the NBA’s Stepien Rule, which prevents first-round players from being treated in consecutive years.
Right off the bat, having only two redeemable draft picks in the first round is a killer for these types of deals. In trading Harden, the Houston Rockets received three first-round picks (2022, 2024, 2026) and four possible trades of picks in addition to the players. Jrue Holidays, who is a lesser player than Lillard but maybe on the same level as Simmons, was traded for two decent veteran players (Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe), two first-round picks and two picks. By comparison, the Lakers can’t even offer trades, as their future first players are already traded themselves.
Then there is the question of the consideration for the money. Lillard is making $ 39.3 million in salary next season on a max level contract that runs until 2025 (his season at 34). Simmons is earning $ 30.6 million to kick off an expansion until 2025 (his 28-year-old season). To be successful in an NBA trade, the Lakers have to match the pay within a small range: They can get back 125% of the pay they send. For Lillard, that means they would have to trade $ 31.4 million; for Simmons, it would be $ 24.5 million.
This is where it gets tough given the contracts the Lakers have on the books. Does Philadelphia, for example, want Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($ 13 million) and Kyle Kuzma ($ 13 million) for Simmons, as well as the two questionable draft picks? Is this a fitting return for an All-Star? The Lakers could also trade Montrezl Harrell if he opts ($ 9.7million), but it’s hard to see 76ers general manager Daryl Morey seeing the value of any combination of these players at the height of Simmons’ worth. , who even though he has shooting issues, is still one of the best playmakers and defensemen in the league. And the Lakers’ trading chips don’t come out of a stellar playoff series that underscores their value.
Finding the fair and realistic trade for Lillard, an All-NBA point guard, is next to impossible. Perhaps the easiest route is for the Lakers to send Dennis Schröder to Portland on a sign-and-swap deal, but Schröder (who is a free agent) should want to be signed and traded. Although he maintained that he was thrilled to be a free agent, he has also stated publicly and privately that he hopes to extend his stay with the Lakers this summer. It is not yet known what the market value of Schröder is., but turned down an announced four-year $ 84 million offer from the Lakers earlier this season.
If the Trail Blazers – who have been criticized for their weak little defensive backcourt for years – are somehow interested in the 6-foot-3 Schröder, maybe the Lakers can trade with him and KCP or Kuzma. But this balance sheet still does not really make sense with the lack of provisional capital, when we consider Lillard’s importance to the Portland franchise over the past decade and what a winner it has been. You can’t get superstar talent for pennies on the dollar.
A huge key difference between Lillard’s situation and Davis’s are the years left on his contract: Lillard still has four seasons (he can retire after the third). It takes some of the juice from its influence. Davis was able to demand a trade with a season and a half remaining on his deal because New Orleans knew he would walk for nothing – and they still have a cargo of picks in the draft and three strong young players, one of which became an All-Star for the franchise. KCP, Kuzma, Harrell and even Schröder don’t have that kind of advantage and won’t give the Portland franchise any sort of moral victory for trading a player who came to define the team.
If Lillard wants to force the way out of town, it will take time and it will be unpleasant. For a long time he was the ideal small market superstar, and although reports indicate he is unhappy now, he could settle down and perhaps find a workable solution to his contract situation. Otherwise, it’s more likely that a team with assets will trade for him – in fact, it seems more likely that star-hungry Morey can find a way to strike a deal with Simmons that the Lakers can’t land the one or the other star themselves.
Never say never when it comes to the Lakers. The franchise has an undeniable appeal that only increases with the stars they already have on the roster. But you better not hold your breath either.
Special thanks to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, a salary cap expert who shared some of his projections and thoughts on Twitter. You can find his work here.
– Kyle Goon
Editor’s Note: Thanks for reading Journalist Kyle Goon’s Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, register here.