Heading into camp as one of a half dozen teams with a good shot to win this season’s NBA championship, the Lakers are perfectly positioned for one last big trade at the deadline to make them championship favorites.
With one of the deepest and most diverse rosters in the league, the Los Angeles Lakers may not need to pull off a big midseason trade to compete for a championship if most of their offseason moves work out positively.
But that doesn’t mean the Lakers won’t be aggressive and try to make one last mega trade if they sense an opportunity to dramatically upgrade their starters and become the odds-on favorites to win their 18th championship.
For all intents and purposes, Rob Pelinka has committed the Lakers to surrounding LeBron James and Anthony Davis with a deep and diverse roster rather than using their salary cap to pay a third max superstar.
That means the Lakers will not be looking to trade for a third superstar during the season. Instead, they will be looking to trade Russell and maybe Hachimura for two better starters or just Russell for one better starter.
As it’s impossible to predict what the actual market value at the trade deadline will be for the players included in trades proposed in this article, I’ve not included any draft compensation in the actual trade proposals.
The max the Lakers could reasonably offer as draft compensation would be their 2029 first round pick, protected or unprotected, plus first round pick swaps for 2028 and 2030, which is essentially the equivalent of three picks.
The draft compensation the Lakers would have to offer in the proposed trades would obviously depend on how the players being traded performed up until the trade. One major factor will be how well Rui Hachimura plays.
If Rui starts and plays very well, the Lakers would then likely limit any trade to include just D’Angelo Russell and draft capital, hoping to swap that package for one of Turner, Hield, Anunoby, Trent, Isaac or Harris.
Here are the three proposed midseason trades Rob Pelinka could pursue after January 15, 2024 and before the trade deadline to elevate the Los Angeles Lakers to be the favorites to win the 2024 NBA Championship.
1. Myles Turner and Buddy Hield
The first midseason trade proposal involves the Lakers sending D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, Taurean Prince, and draft capital to the Indiana Pacers for veteran center Myles Turner and shooting guard Buddy Hield.
That would give the Lakers a dramatically upgraded starting lineup of Reaves, Hield, James, Davis, and Turner backed up by Vincent, Christie, Reddish, Vanderbilt,and Wood. That’s an NBA championship roster.
The Lakers have long coveted Turner and Hield and there should be no question that adding them to Los Angeles’ starting lineup would make the Lakers the odd-on favorites to win their 18th NBA championship.
Myles Turner has long been seen as the perfect center to enable Anthony Davis to play his preferred power forward positions. His 2.0 blocks and steals per game shines as does his 37.2% shooting on 4.0 3’s per game. Buddy Hield’s 42.5% 3-point shooting on 8.5 attempts per game is the high volume, high percentage long range shooter James and Davis desperately needed to create more spacing and open up driving lanes to attack the rim.
The key to the Lakers pulling off this trade will likely be the draft capital included. The Pacers would probably ask for the Lakers 2029 pick with minimal protection and first round pick swaps for 2028 and 2030.
Here are some video highlights from Myles Turner and Buddy Hield from last season. They both provide the Lakers with enhanced shooting, size, and defense to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
What’s always prevented the Lakers from reaching agreement on a Turner and Hield trade was never the fit of either player next to LeBron and AD. It was always whether the rest of the roster was good enough to win it all.
That, in a nutshell, is why Myles Turner and Buddy Hield are the perfect targets for one last big trade to elevate the Los Angeles Lakers from just championship contender to favorites to win their 18th NBA championship.
Turner and Hield’s 3-point shooting gives the Lakers’ offense the needed spacing while Turner’s rim protection elevates the defense to an entirely new level and allows Anthony Davis to play his preferred power forward.
Pulling the trigger on a Myles Turner and Buddy Hield trade should be the Los Angeles Lakers’ top priority at this season’s trade deadline. Myles and Buddy are perfect fits to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
2. OG. Anunoby and Gary Trent, Jr.
The second midseason trade proposal involves the Lakers sending D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, Taurean Prince, and draft capital to the Toronto Raptors for veteran wing O.G. Anunoby and shooting guard Gary Trent, Jr.
That would give the Lakers a dramatically upgraded starting lineup of Reaves, Trent, Anunoby, James, and Davis backed up by Vincent, Christie, Reddish, Vanderbilt,and Wood. That too is an NBA championship roster.
The Lakers have long coveted Anunoby and Trent, Jr. and there should be no question that adding them to Los Angeles’ starting lineup would make the Lakers the odd-on favorites to win their 18th NBA championship.
O.G. Anunoby has long been viewed as the bigger 3&D wing the Lakers desperately need to guard the bigger shooting guards and small forwards in the West. Besides 2.6 stocks per game, he shot 38.7% on 5.5 3’s per game.
Trent Jr. is also a perfect fit on the Lakers as he is an excellent defender and shot 36.9% on 6.8 threes per game. Together, Anunoby and Trent, Jr. could transform the Lakers into a top-10 3-point shooting team in the league.
The key to the Lakers pulling off this trade will again be the draft capital included. The Raptors would probably ask for the Lakers 2029 pick with minimal protection and first round pick swaps for 2028 and 2030.
Here are some video highlights from O.G. Anunoby and Gary Trent, Jr. from last season. Both are excellent defenders as well as dead eye 3-point shooters who will improve the Lakers at both ends of the court.
One the positives of trading for Anunoby and Trent, Jr. is that Anunoby, as an elite 3&D small forward, allows LeBron James to play power forward instead of small forward, where he would have to defend quicker wings.
The Lakers problem is what do you do when Anthony Davis wants to play power forward but LeBron James needs to play power forward? Having an all-star starting 3&D small forward like Anunoby simplifies everything. Davis can start and close games at center but play power forward half the time as the Lakers finally have multiple other players who can play center including Jaxson Hayes and Christian Wood as well as Rui Hachimura.
Pulling off a mega trade for Anunoby and Trent, Jr. should be the Lakers second highest priority in a midseason trade. O.G. and Gary would give the Lakers’ starting lineup a needed boost in 3-point shooting and defense.
3. Jonathan Isaac and Gary Harris
The third midseason trade proposal involves the Lakers sending D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, and draft capital to the Orlando Magic for now healthy power forward Jonathan Isaac and shooting guard Gary Harris.
Adding Isaac and Harris to the Lakers starting lineup doesn’t have the immediate satisfaction of fit as adding Turner and Hield or Anunoby and Trent, Jr. do because of Jonathan’s last three injury-riddled seasons.
Isaac gave the NBA an 11-game preview of what looks like a star. If he can stay healthy, the 25-year old Isaac could give the Lakers either a long-term version of Christian Wood or younger, cheaper version of Anthony Davis. While the 29-year old Harris only played 48 games last year, he enjoyed the best 3-point shooting season of his 10 year career, making 2.0 out of 4.5 threes attempted per game for 43.1% while also playing solid defense.
Unlike the trades with the Pacers and Raptors, the Lakers may not have to include a first round pick to go with Dlo’s expiring contract and Rui’s 4-year deal. They may be able to get by with a pair of seconds as draft capital.
Here are some video highlights from Jonathan Isaac and Gary Harris from last season. Both are excellent defenders as well as dead eye 3-point shooters who will improve the Lakers at both ends of the court.
While trading for him would be a huge gamble, a healthy Jonathan Isaac would unquestionably be the single best player of the six players whom the Lakers would receive in any of the three trades discussed in this article.
The Lakers would certainly want their own physician’s to review Isaac’s medical records and exam him personally, but the opportunity to acquire him without giving up much in the form of draft capital is intoxicating. Make no mistake that health is the only issue here because a healthy Isaac could actually be better than Turner, Hield, Anunoby, Trent, Jr., or Harris. He’s the one out of the six who has real star potential if he can stay healthy.
If they can’t trade with the Pacers or Raptors, the Lakers should consider trading for Jonathan Isaac and Gary Harris. A healthy Isaac would be great insurance for Anthony Davis and possible replacement for LeBron James.