At present, your Los Angeles Lakers are 5-11, and outside of a revelatory stretch from All-Star big man Anthony Davis and some fun play courtesy of role players Russell Westbrook, Lonnie Walker IV and Austin Reaves, there hasn’t been much to enjoy about the team’s 2022-23 season start.
Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report proposes an elaborate three-team trade that could help the Lakers return to semi-title contention, in his estimation.
Pincus proposes that the Lakers ship out the combined $65.4 million salary of Westbrook (who has been good this year as a reserve, just significantly overpaid), Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn (the latter two of whom have been rough), as well as the team’s future first-round draft picks in 2027 and 2029. In return, they’d be receiving embattled Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, ex-teammate of Lakers star LeBron James, plus power forward Bojan Bogdanovic, swingman Alec Burks, and the contract of Nerlens Noel for salary-matching purposes from the Detroit Pistons.
Additional pieces (a second-round future selection, a young player, etc.?) might also need to be included between the Nets and Pistons.
Irving has not been a consistent positive contributor to a team since the last time he appeared with James, during the 2017 NBA Finals. Injuries, erratic play, and, of course, extremely weird absences from the team have kept stopping him from being particularly helpful to a club ever since. He has been a locker room cancer, alienating colleagues, most notably when he drove James Harden away from what could have been a possible all-time Brooklyn offense. Beyond his health and offcourt issues, Irving also hasn’t played solid defense for several years.
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He’d certainly be an improvement over Kendrick Nunn and Patrick Beverley (and Dennis Schröder), but his warts may mitigate a lot of his usefulness.
Bogdanovic has been a bucket since landing in Detroit, and would really help LA’s floor spacing, but he too is a lackluster defender. The 6’7″ forward is averaging a career-most 20.7 points per game, on .500/.400/.882 shooting splits (that’s right, a near-50/40/90 slash line).
6’6″ swingman Alec Burks would certainly be a massive upgrade over most of LA’s bench, as a competent perimeter defender who has been absolutely elite from long range this season, nailing 44.1% of his 4.9 triple attempts a night.
Across 21.3 minutes a night, the 31-year-old vet reserve shooting guard is averaging 16.6 points on .451/.441/.822 shooting splits for a miserable Detroit club, along with 2.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals.
If Irving could stay locked in (a huuuuge “if”), and Bogdanovic and Burks could stay healthy, this writer is still curious as to whether the Lakers could actually compete against the most loaded teams in the Western Conference. But it would certainly be a significant floor-raising trade.
Noel could maybe take some minutes off Thomas Bryant, but he’d really be a throw-in.