Could a Pacers Trade Become Lakers’ Best Path To Ultimately Land Kyrie?

When the path to acquire a coveted player is blocked, the smart strategy is often not to abandon that player as a target but to make moves to be in a better position to successfully trade for that player at the next opportunity.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ campaign to satisfy LeBron James’ wishes and land Kyrie Irving now appears to be dead as the Brooklyn Nets are expected to move forward with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving rather than trading them. The problem the Lakers are facing right now what direction should they go? Should they pursue a trade with the Indiana Pacers for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield or the Utah Jazz for Patrick Beverley and Bojan Bogdanovic.

There are two compelling reasons why the Los Angeles Lakers should trade Russell Westbrook and their 2027 and 2029 first round draft picks for a trio of Indiana Pacers players: Myles Turner, Buddy Hield, and T.J. McConnell. First, the trade would transform the Lakers from a lottery to a playoff team capable of competing for a championship. Second, the trade would give L.A. the key tradeable contracts to pursue Kyrie Irving at the deadline.

So let’s take a look at the proposed Westbrook and Horton-Tucker trades, evaluate whether the resulting roster can compete for a championship, and review how the Lakers will be better positioned to trade for Kyrie Irving.

Turning Russell Westbrook into Three Legitimate Rotation Players

The Lakers’ first step in building a roster that can compete for an NBA championship is to break Westbrook’s $47 million contract into three smaller, more easily tradeable contracts for legitimate rotation players.

That’s exactly what the above proposed trade does. It breaks Westbrook’s massive $47 million contract into Myles Turner’s $18.0 million contract, Buddy Hield’s $21.1 million contract, and T.J. McConnell’s $8.1 contract. Myles Turner becomes the first modern center in Lakers’ history and the defensive rim protector and offensive floor stretcher new head coach Darvin Ham needs to successfully run the Milwaukee Bucks’ 4-out offense

Buddy Hield immediately becomes the Lakers’ starting shooting guard, providing LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the high volume, high percentage 3-point shooter they desperately need to create spacing. McConnell gives the Lakers an accomplished veteran backup point guard who can run the offense with almost a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio and is an elite defender who‘s among the league leaders in steals and deflections.

Frankly, no other Westbrook trade option gives the Lakers three players who are as perfect fits for what the team needs as the Indiana Pacers trade. It gets the Lakers 75% of the way to building a championship roster.

Turning Talen Horton-Tucker into a 3&D Wing Defender and Scorer

The Lakers’ second step in building a roster than can compete for an NBA championship is to trade Talen Horton-Tucker and a second round pick to the New York Knicks for 3&D wing defender and scorer Cam Reddish.

Finding a bigger 3&D wing to backup James or Davis, guard bigger wing scorers like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and possibly close games when the Lakers play small ball was one of the Lakers’ top offseason priorities. While he’s struggled with injuries and had an offseason with the Knicks, the 22-year old Cam Reddish is potentially the perfect player to fill the Lakers’ needs at small forward. At 6′ 8,” 217 lbs, he can defend and shoot the three.

While the Lakers will start games with Turner at the five and James and Davis at the three and four, their formula for closing games in the playoffs and key regular season matchups is to play small ball with AD at the five. The Los Angeles Lakers won the 2020 NBA championship in the bubble with a small-ball-on-steroids closing lineup that boasted a front court of Markieff Morris at the three, LeBron James at the four, and Anthony Davis at the five.

Look for Cam Reddish to fill the role Markieff Morris filled for the Lakers bubble championship team in a small-ball-on-steroids lineup with Reddish at the three, James at the four, and Anthony Davis as the small ball five.

Building a Championship Caliber Starting Lineup and Rotation

The Lakers’ offseason makeover could transform the team from a lottery loser to a legitimate championship contender with a dominant starting lineup backed by a deep, versatile, younger and more athletic bench.

Besides trading Westbrook and Horton-Tucker for Turner, Hield, McConnell, and Reddish, the Lakers also should waive Toscano-Anderson and Gabriel and promote Swider to a standard NBA contract from a two-way contract. That leaves the Lakers with a balanced 15-man roster with three point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards, and centers. The Lakers also have one opening for a two-way player next to Scotty Pippin Jr.

The Lakers’ starting fivesome of Nunn, Hield, James, Davis, and Turner should be among the best in the league. The main backups of McConnell, Reaves, Reddish, Johnson, and Bryant are all outstanding 3-point shooters. The reserves of Christie, Walker, Brown, Swider, and Jones provide Darvin Ham and his player development oriented coaching staff several talented young players who hopefully can grow and develop into contributors.

Trading Russ and THT for for four legitimate rotation players who are perfect fits for what the Lakers and their superstars need catapults the Lakers back into relevancy and the championship conversation.

Building a Portfolio of Tradeable Contracts for Midseason Trades

Unlike this offseason, when they had just three players earning more than the minimum, the Los Angeles Lakers could position themselves to have six tradeable payers at the trade deadline earning more than the minimum.

Those six tradeable players — Buddy Hield, Myles Turner, T.J. McConnell, Lonnie Walker IV, Cam Reddish, and Kendrick Nunn — represent a total of $64,961,204 of tradeable salaries ranging from $5,250,000 to $21,177,750. Each of six of these players are young or in the prime of their careers and on easily traded contracts, They can be aggregated in multiple ways to match salaries in a midseason trade for a superstar like Kyrie Irving.

Unfortunately, the Lakers will likely not have any first round draft picks available at the trade deadline unless they were able to get the Pacers to accept a pick and a pick swap rather than two picks in Westbrook trade. However, they still have the ability to include a pick swap or multiple second round picks so the Lakers are not totally toothless when it comes to draft capital. Next summer, they will also have their 2023 first rounder.

Unlike last trade deadline, the Lakers will have an impressive portfolio of six talented young players at multiple positions on reasonable contracts whose salaries can be aggregated to matchup in any kind of trade.

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LakerTom

LakerTom

Lakers fanatic since 1971 when team traded for Wilt Chamberlain. Founder, editor, and publisher of Lakerholics.com, a community for smart informed Lakers fans.