How a Pacers Trade Solves the Lakers’ Needs for Size, Shooting, and Defense

In what could be the opportunity for which the Los Angeles Lakers have been hoping, Myles Turner appears likely to play out the last year of his contract rather than sign an extension which should motivate the Pacers to trade him.

The Los Angeles Lakers have long had a strong interest in Myles Turner and news that he will not sign an extension to stay with the Indiana Pacers should immediately rekindle the team’s interest in the 26-year old stretch five center. Turner is exactly the player the Lakers need so that new head coach Darvin Ham can replicate the four-out, one-in offense his prior team, the Milwaukee Bucks, utilized with superstars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kris Middleton.

Second First Round Pick Is From 2029, not 2028

With Turner leaving, the odds Indiana decides to trade him to avoid losing him for nothing but the Lakers will need to be extremely aggressive to if they hope to win any bidding war with the Hornets and teams coveting the center. While it may not be enough, the Lakers should go all-in on a mega deal with the Pacers to trade Westbrook, Horton-Tucker, Nunn, and their 2027 and 2029 unprotected first round draft picks for Turner, Brogdon, and Hield.

While teams rarely remove protection from first round draft picks, this is one of those opportunities where the Lakers need to turn their 2027 and 2029 first round picks into something extremely special, valuable, and tradeable.

Why the Lakers Make the Trade?

The Lakers are facing a ticking clock as LeBron James’ and Anthony Davis’ championship window appears to be closing as James approaches 38-years old and Davis struggles to remain healthy and effective outside the bubble.

This trade is as perfect as a trade could be for the Lakers as it allows them to swap Russell Westbrook and filler for three legitimate starters with needed size, shooting, and defense to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis. With Darvin Ham taking over as the head coach, the Lakers are expected to install the four-out, one-in offense used by his former team, the Milwaukee Bucks, to create spacing for Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kris Middleton.

The key to the Bucks four-out offense working is having a stretch five center like Brook Lopez to be one of the four players stationed beyond the 3-point line. Other than in the bubble, Anthony Davis is not a proven stretch five. With Davis injured much of last season, the Lakers found themselves being destroyed by huge negative differentials in rebounding and points in the paint due to lineups that were undersized at almost every single position.

The problem is the Lakers lose their positional size advantage when they play LeBron and AD at the four and five. They need a big center like Myles Turner who lets James and Davis to dominate smaller players at the three and four. Rolling out a starting lineup of 6' 5" Malcolm Brogdon, 6' 4" Buddy Hield, 6' 9" LeBron James, 6' 10" Anthony Davis, and 6' 11" Myles Turner would give the Lakers the positional size advantage at all five of the positions on the floor.

Removing protection from two first round draft picks five and seven years from now when LeBron will be gone and Anthony Davis nearing the end of his career is a huge gamble by the Lakers but their only chance to land Turner.

Why the Pacers Make the Trade?

The Indiana Pacers need to decide what they’re doing. Are they going to try to completely rebuild from scratch or try to rebuild around Tyrese Haliburton and Isaiah Jackson and remain a playoff team in the Eastern Conference?

With Turner declining to sign an extension, it now seems certain the Pacers are going to be looking to trade Turner as well as Brogdon and Hield, who are already on Indiana’s trading block. Pacers will surely not be short of suitors. The Charlotte Hornets, Brooklyn Nets, and several other NBA teams will have significant interest in Turner, who has finished among the top two shot blockers in the entire league the past three years and is still only 26-years old.

With the Pacers undergoing a partial rebuild around Haliburton and Jackson, getting two unprotected Lakers first round picks could be attractive enough for an established and secure general manager like Kevin Pritchard to bite. While the actual picks are five and seven years away, the fact that they are unprotected for a team that could struggle badly once LeBron James retires and Anthony Davis ages could make them extremely valuable and tradeable.

Indiana has long been the preferred trading partner for the Los Angeles Lakers, partly because of the players they have who are available in trade and partly because they are a franchise with a very stable front office situation. Unlike many genera managers, Kevin Pritchard will likely still be running the Indiana Pacers front office when the Lakers 2027 and 2029 first round picks will actually be used, although they will likely be traded multiple times.

Indiana not only gets two Lakers’ post LeBron James unprotected first round picks that could be extremely valuable but also gets a future young star in Horton-Tucker and saves $65 million on Brogdon’s and Hield’s contracts.

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