The Los Angeles Lakers spent 10 months waiting for the perfect Russell Westbrook trade. On Friday, it seemingly arrived when Kyrie Irving asked the Brooklyn Nets to trade him. Irving was a proven fit alongside LeBron James and exactly the sort of superstar the Lakers tend to prioritize. Yet when the dust settled, Irving became a member of the Dallas Mavericks, not the Lakers.
Now the trade deadline is only two days away, and the Lakers are scrambling to pick up the pieces. The team is still reportedly seeking upgrades around James and Anthony Davis, but whom might they acquire? A number of names are seemingly on the table as the deadline approaches.
Let's check in on the latest Lakers trade rumors.
The Raptors control the deadline
Just about every team looking to make a major addition this deadline is waiting on the Toronto Raptors. Seemingly every player not named Scottie Barnes is available before Thursday, and the Lakers seem to be looking into all of them. Yahoo's Jake Fischer reported that the Lakers are among the many teams interested in defensive stopper OG Anunoby. Several reporters have linked the Lakers to 2022 All-Star Fred VanVleet and impending free agent Gary Trent Jr.
All three check several important boxes for the Lakers. They are all strong shooters, which is a necessity for any Lakers trade candidate as they make the fewest 3-pointers in the NBA. They would all help the Lakers' 20th-ranked defense as well. Anunoby is the prize of the trio. Aside from playing the most valuable position, he'd fill a gaping hole at forward for a Lakers team that consistently plays three-guard lineups to cover up its lack of front court depth.
Of course, just about every team could use another forward, so competition for Anunoby will be steep. The Lakers have only two first-round picks to offer, so it's unclear if they'll be able to compete in a bidding war for his services. Still, with so many teams seemingly preserving assets for an offseason run at Kevin Durant, the price on Toronto's available veterans might dip just low enough for the Lakers to get into the hunt. If not? There are a few alternatives on the table.
Utah has been in the running since the offseason
Danny Ainge has been persistent in his pursuit of the Lakers' draft picks. They were reportedly in talks as far back as the offseason, when the Jazz still had Bojan Bogdanovic to offer. No Russell Westbrook deal materialized at the time, but the Lakers and Jazz did connect on a Patrick Beverley-for-Talen Horton-Tucker swap. At this stage, these teams are quite familiar with what the other has to offer.
ESPN's Tim MacMahon has reported that the Lakers and Jazz are still discussing a deal in which several role players, including Mike Conley and Malik Beasley, would go to Los Angeles in exchange for those first-round picks and Westbrook. It is unclear what the complete package would be, though the Lakers would likely ask for former Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson and defensive stalwart Jarred Vanderbilt if they are putting both picks on the table.
Charlotte is a dark horse
Negotiations with Utah and Indiana have taken centerstage since the offseason, but Charlotte always made sense as a possible home for Westbrook. The Hornets are tanking and have a number of long-term contracts they would probably prefer to move for Westbrook's expiring salary.
One such name, according to Fischer, is Terry Rozier. Rozier is a stronger shooter than Westbrook, and the Lakers could add him as a long-term starter given his contract. Charlotte has also reportedly received interest for forward P.J. Washington, an obvious Lakers fit given their frontcourt woes. Those two alone wouldn't be enough to match salary on Westbrook, but another mid-tier contract like Mason Plumlee or Kelly Oubre Jr. could close that gap.