3 Trades To Extend LeBron & Lakers Championship Window 3 More Years
The Los Angeles Lakers’ announcement that their strategy approaching the February 9 trade deadline would be to limit any trades made to deals that not only improve the team for this year but also over the next three years.
Frankly, the Lakers’ new trade strategy should have been their plan from beginning. Barring injury, LeBron James is playing like he will still be an elite player not only for this season but also during his two year extension.
Synching their trade deadline plans to the three years left on James’ deal makes more sense than trading away the future to win this season or stupidly sacrificing this season worrying about the post-LeBron years.
The Lakers essentially have two trade packages. The first package consists of the $20.4 million in expiring contracts of Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn, and Damian Jones plus the Lakers’ 2027 or 2029 first round pick.
The second package consists of the $47 million expiring contract of Russell Westbrook plus the Lakers’ 2027 or 2029 first round pick not included in the first package. The Lakers can also make trades that don’t include picks.
Here is a 3-trade package that meet the Lakers’ new trade deadline strategy of not only helping win the team win a championship this season but also over the next two seasons in sync with LeBron James 2-year extension.
Trade 1: Toronto Raptors
If the Los Angeles Lakers want to build a team to compete for the next 3 NBA championships, they need an elite starting point guard. The first step in rebuilding this roster for the near future is trading for Fred VanVleet.
The 28-year old VanVleet is a former All-Star point guard and NBA champion who’s an elite volume 3-point shooter, an accomplished low turnover playmaker, and a feisty perimeter defender despite his size.
VanVleet is available because the Raptors continue to lose and it makes sense to rebuild around Scottie Barnes and because Fred having a subpar season and has a player option to become a free agent this summer.
The Lakers get the young starting point guard they need to optimize LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the Raptors save the second year of VanVleet’s salary and get the Lakers 2027 unprotected first round pick.
Trade 2: Detroit Pistons
Once the Lakers have VanVleet as their starting point guard, they can focus on filling out the starting lineup and upgrading the backups at all positions. The best option to do that is by trading Westbrook to the Detroit Pistons.
Bogdanovic and Burks give the Lakers new starters at small forward and shooting guard and empower the Lakers to surround LeBron James and Anthony Davis with three high percentage, high volume 3-point shooters.
The 33-year old Bogdanovic is shooting 43.6% from deep while the 31-year old Burks is shooting 38.6%, each on 5 attempts per game. The 28-year old Noel will let the Lakers have an elite shot blocker on court entire game.
Bogdanovic and Burks go a long way towards solving the Lakers’ 3-point shooting woes as well as giving them more positional size at shooting guard and small forward while Noel will solidly anchor second team defense.
Trade 3: New York Knicks
One of the rules to building a roster with stability and continuity is to not lose valuable players like Alex Caruso and Malik Monk to free agency for nothing. The player most at risk for that this season is Lonnie Walker IV.
If the Lakers trade Russell Westbrook, they would then not have any cap space to reward Lonnie for the excellent season he has had. Walker will likely earn a larger and longer new contract than either Caruso or Monk.
Trading Lonnie Walker IV straight up for Cam Reddish seems like a win-win trade for both teams. Lakers get a needed wing with Bird rights. The Knicks get a promising young star whom they have cap space to re-sign.
Reddish gives the Lakers another 3&D wing to backup Bogdanovic and strengthen the second unit with needed size and shooting. Reddish fits the mold of a young player the Lakers hope will grow over the next 3 years.
Lakers Depth Chart Before & After
A quick comparison of the Los Angeles Lakers’ depth chart before and after the 3 trades and 5 new incoming players shows how dramatically the trades have upgraded not only the starting lineup but also the primary backups.
The trades provided the Lakers with three new starters in VanVleet, Burks, and Bogdanovic but also two new primary backups in Noel and Reddish. The Lakers added greatly needed front court size, shooting, and defense.
The addition of Bogdanovic allows James and Davis to slide up to the 4 and 5 and the addition of VanVleet and Burks transforms the Lakers back court into an elite high volume, high percentage 3-point shooting guard tandem.
Swapping Lonnie Walker IV to the New York Knicks for Cam Reddish completes what is effectively a midseason extreme makeover of the Los Angeles Lakers roster to make them competitive for the next 3 years.
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