Realistic Lakers Trade Scenarios

With the trade deadline approaching, the Lakers might make some deals in the near future. Here are some hypothetical scenarios where they can improve their team significantly now and for the future.

Mark your calendars for February 8th, folks! The NBA trade deadline is nearing, with various deals around the league in the works and teams looking towards improving their respective franchises. The Lakers are no different. Here are moves the storied franchise can make to improve both their talent and cap flexibility. Some of these trades are rumor-based, but these are mostly hypothetical scenarios that could significantly improve the squad going forward. All of these were put in ESPN's trade machine, so all of the salaries match up correctly. Without further ado, let's get into these juicy hypotheticals!

More Chess Pieces for King James

Lakers get: Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, Jeff Green, Cavs' FRP

Cavaliers get: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr., Corey Brewer

Why the Lakers do it: They get more cap flexibility. Clarkson eats up a lot of cap space because the Lakers didn't use bird rights to sign him. He and Shumpert have roughly similar yearly salaries, but Shumpert has 2 years left on his deal, as opposed to Clarkson's 3 years. Shumpert also has a player option to opt out of his contract after this season. It is unclear if he would opt out, but if he does not, the Lakers will have more flexibility than before by inheriting Shumpert's bird rights. Frye and Green are expiring contracts this offseason, and they give the Lakers more temporary depth on the perimeter. Furthermore, the Lakers also get a later first-round pick. Judging by their scouts' track record in recent drafts (Kuzma, Nance, Clarkson, etc.), this could be a valuable pick.

Why the Cavaliers do it: They get two solid young players that can both help them out immediately and down the line. Brewer and Nance provide solid defense off the bench, which this team desperately needs. Clarkson can also relieve LeBron James of ball-handling duties. This would be a good deal for them if a George Hill or DeAndre Jordan deal does not materialize. Clarkson and Nance are the two best players in this deal, and giving up a late first-rounder would help even out the deal. 

LA Gets More Hair

Lakers get: Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja, and Shelvin Mack

Magic get: Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr.

Why the Lakers do it: Again, their cap space increases. Both Hezonja and Payton are expiring contracts. The former becomes an unrestricted free agent, whereas the latter becomes a restricted one, meaning the Lakers can match any offer any other team gives him. The Lakers inherit both of their bird rights, so if they choose to re-sign, the Lakers would save more cap space than what they had with Clarkson on the books for the next few seasons. Payton at the right price could be a good backup for Lonzo Ball. Hezonja is a conundrum because he is very athletic and has some skills. He can run well with this team and potentially develop into a good shooter. Super Mario would be cheap to re-sign, making him a good buy-low option. LA could also let these two walk in free agency. Mack is a stable backup who will be on the books for this season and next. He is cheap and a decent temporary backup.

Why the Magic do it: Given that the Magic need to re-sign Aaron Gordon (and might not want to keep Payton or Hezonja), they get a good, stable guard in Clarkson to pair with Fournier in the backcourt. The Magic are a team that rarely makes a splash in free agency, so giving up players who might leave for players under contract for multiple seasons is a major plus. Nance has an excellent contract; they can keep and re-sign under bird rights next offseason. He would be a stable player to add to an already solid rotation of Vucevic, Gordon, and Isaac. 

LA Helps Cleveland Land George Hill

Lakers get: Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood, Vince Carter, Garrett Temple, and Channing Frye

Jazz get: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr., and Kyle Korver

Cavaliers get: Brook Lopez and George Hill

Kings get: Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Alec Burks, and Cavs' FRP

Why the Lakers do it: Again, the Lakers get more cap space. All are free agents this summer, except Temple, who only has one more year under his contract after this offseason. At only $8 million a year, he is a serviceable backup to help fill out the roster. Vince Carter would provide an incredible veteran presence and good shooting off the bench, both of which the Lakers desperately need. They would inherit Hood's and Favors' bird rights. Hood will be a RFA this summer;  Favors will be an UFA. The former is still young and a good 3-D player. The latter is a solid starting center. Randle would be a good 6th man, with Kuzma starting to give spacing on offense for Favors. If the Lakers strike out in free agency, Hood and Favors would be good, financially-feasible players to re-sign. They could use Frye as a stretch 4 in some minutes off the bench, as well.

Why the Jazz do it: Like Orlando, they are a small market, so free agents are hard to come by. Instead of losing guys for nothing, they get a good backup guard in Clarkson to spell Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio. Korver would provide incredible spacing, which the Jazz desperately need. He would create more driving lanes and roll space for Rudy Gobert. Nance would fit in well, playing hard on defense and moving the ball on offense, perfect for Quin Snyder's system.

Why the Cavaliers do it: They dump some dead weight in Thompson and Shumpert, who need a desperate change of scenery. They get some decent floor spacing in Brook Lopez, who can take a load off LeBron and help out on the boards. He may not get a lot of rebounds, but he boxes out well, allowing others to get uncontested boards. George Hill provides much-needed defense, and gives good shooting and playmaking. They would significantly upgrade their roster, despite giving up salary dumps and a first-round pick.

Why the Kings do it: They get a first-round pick and shed some of Hill's salary. As mentioned earlier, Shumpert has a player option to become a free agent this summer, but if he opts in, he has only one year left on his deal. Of the players in return for Sacramento, Thompson is the only one signed for the 2020 season. George Hill is the same, except Thompson is $3 million cheaper and has bird rights. Burks is only signed for this season and next with bird rights. Also, consider these players are athletic and want to run, which will fit right in with De'Aaron Fox and Willy Cauley-Stein. Add in a late first-round pick, and the Kings have themselves a good return.

The Lakers Help the Cavaliers in a Blockbuster

Lakers get: Jabari Parker, Rashad Vaughn, Channing Frye, and Jose Calderon

Cavaliers get: DeAndre Jordan, Lou Williams, Wes Johnson, Corey Brewer, and Eric Bledsoe

Clippers get: Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder, and Nets' FRP

Bucks get: Isaiah Thomas, Kyle Korver, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr., and Ivica Zubac

Why the Lakers do it: Jabari Parker is one of the most intriguing players in the league. With two ACL tears in only four years in the league, it is understandable if anyone is hesitant to take flyer on him. Last season, Parker shot a very solid 67% from 0-3 feet, and an average 36.5% from 3. However, he shot well under 40% between those distances, with 36.5% of his shots coming from that range, versus only 21.9% of them coming from 3. He is not a very good defensive player, either. However, he is still only turning 23 and far from a finished product. With him being a pending RFA this summer, he could be a good gamble. Vaughn is also very young and has shooting potential, so he is a decent buy-low option. Frye and Calderon are both expiring contracts. They get more cap flexibility and two talented young players that are low-risk, high-reward options. Worst comes to worst, they let both walk in free agency, giving them more cap space.

Why the Cavaliers do it: They get two all-star-caliber players in DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams, both of whom are pending free agents. They can also give LeBron more incentive to stay. DJ, Brewer, Wes Johnson, and potentially Eric Bledsoe improve that abysmal defense. Bledsoe also shares the same agent as LeBron, which might help entice LeBron to stay. He and Lou will relieve LeBron with ball-handling duties. They also get much more cap flexibility. Getting rid of the Nets' pick might sting, but LeBron is a once in a lifetime player. If you can keep him, do whatever it takes. Getting rid of Isaiah Thomas might sting, but he is almost 29, has a bad hip, and is on an expiring contract. It would be incredibly risky to keep him.

Why the Clippers do it: To be blunt, it is the Nets' pick. Gaining a potential top-10 pick, along with Detroit's pick, could help them accumulate more young assets. It also gives them the flexibility to trade up or down in the draft. Plus, the Clippers get worse as a team, so their own pick increases in value. Three quality first-round picks could lead to a quick rebuild. Plus, as flawed as a coach Doc Rivers is, he can get certain players to play hard. This would benefit Thompson, Shumpert, and Crowder, who have all been good defenders in the past. Their stocks can increase, and the Clippers could trade them later to get more assets.

Why the Bucks do it: They get more depth. Clarkson and Thomas (though beat up) instantly increase their backcourt depth and shooting. This will prove especially helpful with Malcolm Brogdon out for 6-8 weeks, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Nance can be a good small-ball 5, who can do the dirty work to help increase that bottom-10 defense. Zubac is a decent buy-low project. They can potentially turn him into a decent rotation player. He is very cheap, and his contract next season is not guaranteed. Kyle Korver will open a lot up for them offensively, creating more driving and cutting lanes for their athletes.

DeAndre Jordan Changes Locker Rooms

Lakers get: DeAndre Jordan, Austin Rivers, Dante Cunningham, and Aaron Brooks

Clippers get: Brook Lopez, Andrew Wiggins, Alexis Ajinca, Pels' SRP, and Wolves' FRP

Pelicans get: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr., and Cole Aldrich

Timberwolves get: Lou Williams, Wes Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, and Ian Clark

Why the Lakers do it: All of those players are expiring contracts or, in DJ's and Rivers' cases, they have player options to opt out and become free agents. It is uncertain if Rivers will do so, but it seems likely Jordan will, considering the Clippers are trying to move him, according to Woj. Jordan should fit well both defensively and offensively, where he can get easy lobs from Lonzo Ball. This will make defenses collapse, giving shooters more space. They would also inherit DJ's bird rights, making the Lakers more attractive to other free agents. Rivers would provide a good defensive boost and some shooting off the bench, for the time being.

Why the Clippers do it: Andrew Wiggins is one of the most polarizing players in the league. He is averaging almost 20 points per game for his career, despite poor efficiency. He also has the defensive tools, but he has been a poor defender. However, he is turning only 23-years-old and is still wickedly talented. He might just need a change of scenery. Doc Rivers might get him to compete on both ends. Lopez's expiring contract and bird rights help them maintain cap flexibility. An extra future FRP and SRP will help speed up the rebuild.

Why the Pelicans do it: Moore has been an incredibly efficient scorer this season for New Orleans, with a 42.6% clip from 3 and an astonishing 57.5% clip from 2. Adding Jordan Clarkson should alleviate Holiday of some ball-handling duties, which will allow him to take more catch-and-shoot opportunities, in which he has a solid 55.8% eFG%. More ball-handlers will take the pressure off Davis, and Nance should help ease the load of rebounding and defense. Doing whatever it takes to make Davis' load easier should be priority number one for the Pelicans.

Why the Timberwolves do it: While they do give up a FRP and the talented Andrew Wiggins, Lou Williams and E'Twaun Moore will add more shooting for a team that is 24th in the league in 3pt%. The 3rd ranked offense gets even better. Wes Johnson should add some desperately needed wing depth. They may be giving up a FRP, but they get more cap flexibility with Wiggins' big contract off the books. Being a top-tier team means their first-rounder will be low, therefore its value is not that high for that specific team. Also, remember that Thibs loves his vets.

My Take

While it is unclear if these trades will actually happen, I think any of them would benefit all parties involved. For the Lakers, getting better cap flexibility and some young players who are low-risk/high-reward can greatly improve the team. These deals make the Lakers much more able to withstand striking out in free agency. The deals also put the Lakers in a position to do better in free agency. More cap space and more talent will make the Lakers more appealing.

Do you think these trades are fair? Do you have any trade ideas? Comment below, or tweet at me @2sainttakes and we can discuss and/or debate. 

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