With the NBA season approaching, the Los Angeles Lakers are in a place they haven’t been in for five seasons. Playoff Contention. While the Lakers were able to add players like LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Michael Beasley in free agency, speculation continues to grow about their need to acquire another star during the season. Some of the players on the list have expressed their desire to play on the Lakers. Others have been made available for trade by their teams. Either way, all of these players could help the Lakers to contend for a championship this upcoming season. Let’s take a look at some Lakers’ potential trade targets.
Los Angeles Lakers Potential Trade Targets
This one was made to be. Kawhi Leonard has repeatedly shown his interest to return to his hometown to play for the storied franchise. After Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors, reports surfaced that Leonard still wanted to be a member of the Lakers. Although there’s a chance Leonard remains in Toronto next season, the Lakers may target him at this season’s trade deadline. If the Raptors have a disappointing first half of the season, they may be inclined to trade Leonard. With Leonard’s health also in question, that makes his future in Toronto even more uncertain.
The Lakers wouldn’t likely sacrifice any of their core players in a trade for Leonard, knowing their chances to get him in free agency. However, if they choose to pull the trigger on a trade for Leonard, the Lakers would be favorites to make it to the Western Conference Finals, and may even be able to beat the Golden State Warriors. Making a deal for Leonard would dramatically increase their chances this postseason and in the future.
Just recently, a source close to Jimmy Butler says, “He’s open” to the idea of joining the Lakers next year. With Butler being a free agent this off season, it looks likely that he will leave the Minnesota Timberwolves. Butler has conveyed his opinions about Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, citing their work ethic and maturity as serious issues. The Timberwolves could trade Butler this year, and not have to risk losing him for nothing this off season.
He would help solidify the Lakers starting lineup, as well as provide a critical second option that the Lakers need. With the growing discomfort in the Timberwolves organization, it seems likely that either Towns, Wiggins or Butler will be gone in the near future. Butler could be the second superstar that the Lakers need, but once again, it comes down to if the Lakers want to make a trade or risk signing him in free agency.
Yes, this may seem like a long shot right now. However, things can happen during the season that dramatically change the course of a team’s season. The All-Star point guard would be a significant offensive upgrade for the Lakers if they are able to acquire him. With the recent struggles in Portland, this seems to be a relative possibility. The Portland Trail Blazers have been swept in each of the last two seasons in the first round.
Rumors are continuing to grow about Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum‘s futures in Portland, and a rebuild might be necessary. Lillard has said in the past that if he couldn’t play for Portland, the Lakers would be one of his next options. In a trade for Lillard, Lonzo Ball would almost certainly be involved in the deal, along with a combination of other picks, and most likely another young core player. Although the Trail Blazers haven’t shown any interest in trading Lillard yet, this is definitely a situation to keep an eye on.
Although Vucevic is not in the same tier as the other players here, he could still play an important role for the Lakers this season. Vucevic has been made available by the Orlando Magic in order to clear up more playing time for Mo Bamba. He is a skilled offensive big man who can serve as a solid post presence on offense.
Since the Lakers lost Brook Lopez in free agency, Vucevic would make for a perfect replacement. Vucevic’s trade value is not high at the moment, though. An offer of a player and an assortment of draft picks would be hard for the Magic to resist, considering they aren’t in a position to compete this year. Vucevic is a free agent next season, which makes it hard to judge how the Lakers would value him. However, there is no doubt that he’s an upgrade to and could prove to be a valuable acquisition.
The Portland Trail Blazers season is hanging in the balance behind their leader, Damian Lillard. (Photo by Alex Milan Tracy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)