The Lakers are willing to trade draft assets, but only for a substantial return
The Los Angeles Lakers sealed the deal for two more years with LeBron James this week, which was one building block locked in. But it’s far from enough to position them for the ultimate goal, another NBA title, given that the current roster is virtually the same as last year’s, which missed the postseason.
With James aging, the team needs to make moves quickly to set him, as well as the franchise, up for a very short title window. Agreeing to the extension was a vote of confidence from James, but simultaneously a public statement that he expects more as far as roster building goes.
The Lakers have two draft picks in 2027 and 2029 that can be traded, and the front office is reportedly willing to trade them, but only for the right package, according to Marc Stein (subscription required).
One package on the table was Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, but according to Stein, the team does not believe this is nearly enough to get the team where it needs to be for title contention. The only sort of deal the team wants to make that includes both first-round picks includes Kyrie Irving or a star of similar stature. LeBron has been pushing the front office toward Kyrie, who he won a title with in Cleveland.
A staring match is about to take place between the Nets and Lakers
Stein details that if the Lakers want to get Kyrie, they’ll need to get a third team involved if they are only willing to give up draft picks and Russell Westbrook. He details that the Nets are uninterested in Westbrook and want “win-now” players, not draft picks, in return for Irving.
The Lakers have little to offer in that regard.
The Lakers will likely explore other avenues while waiting patiently waiting for the Nets to budge or for another team to show interest in getting involved. It will take a well-positioned scenario since most of the teams with the space to take Westbrook’s salary on in exchange for draft compensation probably have little “win-now” talent to move to Brooklyn.
Of course, Brooklyn, in a precarious situation with Durant having requested a trade or drastic organizational changes, is balancing its leverage on multiple dimensions with its own players and opposing teams.
Right now, it feels like the most likely scenario is that nothing happens before the season opens.