Hey everyone, I’m Dan Woike and welcome to the Lakers newsletter, our weekly check-in that, I swear, usually has more staying power than this. This week it’s all about today’s trade deadline — which comes at noon. So let’s stop wasting time, and let me empty out the notebook.
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Here’s what I got
Over the last few weeks, there’s been an increased belief that anything the Lakers do at the deadline would be minor — a development that you can attribute to a few things.
One, D’Angelo Russell started playing his best basketball of the year, and it became increasingly clear that his value to the Lakers would be greater than his value on the trade market. Two, the Lakers’ roster started to put together some quality wins against top-line teams.
And three, the trade market was pretty brutal to them.
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Because of a combination of the NBA’s play-in tournament, a weak upcoming draft and an overwhelming distaste for full-on rebuilds, the sellers on the market were asking for significant returns. (Also, a handful of big trades including James Harden, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Terry Rozier all happened well before the deadline.)
This, as of Wednesday night, largely was still the case.
The asking price for Chicago’s Alex Caruso, sources believe, might even exceed two first-round picks. Brooklyn’s Dorian Finney-Smith, a player the Lakers like, seemingly isn’t going to be moved for anything less than a first-round pick (with rumors that the Nets want more). Toronto’s Bruce Brown, another player the Lakers have coveted, also is expected to land a first.
Memphis’ reserve big man Xavier Tillman, a free agent at the end of the year, fetched the Grizzlies a pair of second-round picks from Boston.
Another player the Lakers have interest in, Utah’s Kelly Olynyk, likely could cost as much as three second-round selections. (Interestingly, the Lakers could loosen or remove the protections on the 2027 first-round pick they already owe the Jazz as a way to add more to a Utah trade).
The Lakers, though, are far from the only team interested in Olynyk.
Some other names to monitor include Brooklyn’s Royce O’Neal and Lonnie Walker IV, Detroit’s Alec Burks and Washington’s Tyus Jones. All are expected to cost multiple seconds and all are the kind of players on the margins that other contenders probably are calling on as well.
Talks with Atlanta over Dejounte Murray, which at one point sources believed to be at least kind of close, stalled over the Lakers’ refusal to include Austin Reaves. Should the Hawks move off their position, those talks could reignite, and the Lakers could end up making a bigger move.
Another factor: The ability to use three first-round picks on draft night in an even bigger deal is a real thing. But it seems the bigger issues are that the players with first-round price tags wouldn’t give the Lakers the kind of return they’re looking for.
It seems more likely the team will be working on the edges and banking on the players they leaned on last year on their run to the Western Conference finals.
They’re active and will continue to be so — but the big shakeup that once seemed inevitable might not be coming.