Myles Turner Plus Last Season’s Roster Would Transform Lakers Into Champs

LakerTom
7 min readMay 28, 2023

If the Lakers want to seriously compete for a championship, they need to trade Malik Beasley, Mo Bamba, and 2029 first round pick to the Pacers for Myles Turner and bring back their core rotation from last season’s roster.

That would give the Lakers a proven 12-man roster with 9 rotation players from last season’s ‘post-trade deadline’ roster, including James, Davis, Reaves, Russell, Vanderbilt, Christie, Walker, Hachimura, and Schroder. Besides trading for 6' 11" center Myles Turner, the Lakers would use their #17 pick in the first round for 6'11" Duke center Dereck Lively II and their #47 pick in the second round for 6' 7" Kentucky forward Chris Livingston.

The Lakers’ goal this offseason is not only to build a championship team but also to be in position two years from now to be the premier landing spot to attract an NBA superstar to replace LeBron James when he retires. The Lakers want to do a better job making the transition from the LeBron James era than they did moving on from the Magic Johnson or Kobe Bryant eras, which were followed by years of bad rosters and losing seasons.

Pelinka has already said the Lakers were going to try to bring back the core of the team that surprised everybody by being the fourth best in the league after the trade deadline and making it all the way to the conference finals. The challenge will be to accomplish that without crossing the threshold of the league’s new draconian second luxury tax, which starts when a team’s payroll exceeds $186.5 million, which will become the NBA’s real hard cap.

Let’s look at what the Lakers would have to give up to trade for Turner, what they’re likely to do in the draft, how they’re going to bring back their core, and what their starting lineup and rotation would look like after the trade.

1. Lakers Trade With Pacers For Myles Turner

The Lakers have long coveted Indiana center Myles Turner and came close to trading for him before the start of last season before backing out at the last minute. The timing for pursuing Turner now appears to be perfect.

The Lakers need to get bigger, younger, and better defensively and easiest way to accomplish that is to trade for the Pacers’ 27-year old 6' 11" center Myles Turner and move LeBron James and Anthony Davis down a position. Turner is the crown Rob Pelinka needs to add to the masterful makeover of the Lakers’ roster he pulled off last trade deadline. He and a pair of stud rookies in Lively and Livingston are the final pieces to the Lakers’ puzzle.

When the Lakers and the Pacers discussed trading Turner last summer, Indiana wanted one first round pick for taking on Westbrook’s contract and one for Myles Turner with protection on the two picks a big sticking point. The trade was always about Turner for draft capital with any Lakers players simply being salary filler. Realistically, the Lakers are going to have to make their 2029 first round pick unprotected for the Pacers to make trade.

Trading for a starting center like Myles Turner would allow Anthony Davis and LeBron James to move down a position, have positional size advantage, and reduce physicality and avoid injury by playing against smaller players. With Turner replacing Vanderbilt, the Lakers starting lineup is suddenly dramatically better at both ends of the court. Turner adds both horizontal and vertical spacing on offense and is one of the league’s top shot blockers.

Finally, trading Beasley and Bamba for Turner will save the Lakers $5.8 million in annual salaries, which not only allows the Lakers to bring back almost everybody from last year but also to avoid the NBA’s new luxury tax.

2. Lakers Turn to Klutch Sports for 2023 Draft

The silver lining of this season is the Lakers ending up with the #17 and #47 picks in what should be an excellent draft class. Look for the Lakers to lean heavily on their long alliance with Klutch Sports when making their picks.

The Lakers’ biggest two roster priorities are finding an athletic center who can play defense and protect the rim and a legitimate bigger 3&D wing who can guard the bigger wing scorers who dominate the Western Conference. Fortunately for the Lakers, Rich Paul and Klutch Sports have two clients in the upcoming 2023 NBA Draft in 6' 11" Duke center Dereck Lively II and 6' 7" 3&D wing Chris Livingston who would be excellent fits on their roster.

Lively has been projected to be drafted by the Lakers at #17 in several mock drafts while Livingston worked out for Los Angeles right after Klutch Sports Pro Day last week. Both are elite athletes who provide depth and upside. The Lakers as a team want to get younger, bigger, and better defensively. They got a great start when Pelinka remade the roster at the trade deadline and now Rob has an opportunity to finish the job with a killer NBA draft.

The Lakers’ scouting department has shown great ability to find talent late in the first round, second round, or undrafted. If they can land Dereck Lively II and Chris Livingston, they would deserve a draft grade of A+.

3. Lakers Bring Back Core of Last Year’s Team

The Los Angeles Lakers currently have 4 players still under contract in James, Davis, Vanderbilt, and Christie and 5 players whom they would like to bring back in Reaves, Hachimura, Russell, Schroder, and Walker.

The above salary cap projection show the Lakers re-signing restricted free agents Reaves and Hachimura to long-term contracts and unrestricted free agents Russell, Walker, and Schroder using Bird, Early Bird, and TPMLE.
Re-signing those 5 players would then mean the Lakers were returning 9 of 15 players from the roster that made it to the conference finals last year, which would give them better continuity heading into next season.

By saving $5.8 million in annual salary in the Myles Turner trade, the Lakers were able to keep their total salaries under the NBA’s $186.5 million second luxury tax threshold and avoid its multiple draconian competitive penalties. There’s no question the NBA’s new second luxury tax is essentially going to establish $186.5 million as the league’s ‘de facto’ hard cap because the penalties for exceeding the threshold greatly impact competitiveness.

By adding Turner and two draft picks to their core rotation from last year, the Lakers are projected to spend $185 million in salaries and pay $47 million in luxury taxes for a total annual payroll expense of $232 million. With three open roster spots for veteran players as insurance or younger players with upside, the Lakers have an opportunity to start next season with the best and deepest roster they’ve had in the LeBron and AD era.

This summer is the second phase of Rob Pelinka’s master class in extreme roster makeover. This summer’s trade for Turner and great draft should finally win Rob Pelinka his overdue trophy as NBA Executive of the Year.

4. Lakers Projected Championship Caliber Rotation

Almost every player on the Lakers expressed a desire to see what this team could have done if they had had a training camp and full season to play together, get to know each other, and build some chemistry and rapport.

Imagine bringing back the 9 best players from last season and adding Myles Turner and 2 promising draft picks to that roster. That might be the best 12-player roster in the NBA before you even add two or three more players. The Lakers’ starting lineup of Russell, Reaves, James, Davis, and Turner would be the biggest and baddest defensive team in the league and a bench of Schroder, Walker, Vanderbilt, Hachimura, and Lively would dominate.

This roster would allow Lakers head coach Darvin Ham to play a deep and diverse 10-man rotation that could dramatically reduce their reliance on and workloads of overworked superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers know the smartest way to keep their two superstars healthy is to reduce their minutes and workloads and surround them with players who will make their jobs easier and the team far more dangerous.

Ultimately, the Lakers’ roster goal to become younger, bigger, and better defensively will not only pay off by winning more NBA championships but also by making the Lakers the ideal landing spot for LeBron’s replacement. Successfully navigating the transition from LeBron James is right now a bigger challenge for the Lakers than winning next season. As always, the Lakers are trying to have their cake and eat it too. They just might do it.

Rob Pelinka has a great opportunity this summer to transform the Lakers into a championship team by bringing back the core rotation from last season, adding center Myles Turner, and drafting two Klutch Sports clients.

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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.