The Los Angeles Lakers need to do anything possible to improve the roster and make it even further in the NBA Playoffs next season. Making the Western Conference Finals is great but the ultimate goal is to hang banner No. 18 in the rafters.
Luckily, the Lakers actually have flexibility this offseason, unlike in previous years. Because of the moves made at the deadline — which Rob Pelinka dubbed pre-agency — the Lakers have a solid core that can easily be added to in a variety of ways.
Some additions may come via free agency but fans may also see the Lakers pull off a trade. After all, there are some prominent names on the trade market, including recent lottery picks like De’Andre Hunter.
Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reported that the Atlanta Hawks were discussing trade scenarios for both Hunter and John Collins to free up money both this season and the future. Collins was already traded, which might make Hunter safe, but the right package could still entice Atlanta.
Los Angeles may not have a home run package but the team certainly has a package good enough get the job done if Atlanta is serious about trading Hunter.
Lakers trade package to reunite with De’Andre Hunter
For those confused on how this would be a reunion, Hunter was taken with the fourth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. That pick originally belonged to the Lakers and was traded in the Anthony Davis trade (before being re-routed to Atlanta). Because of the NBA’s weird draft trade rules, Hunter actually had to wear a Lakers hat on draft night.
So while he has never worn a Lakers uniform, it would still be a reunion of sorts. Maybe he has the hat still.
This trade package may not seem like that much for Hunter but when you compare it to the Collins trade package, in which Atlanta only received Rudy Gay and a second-round pick, it looks like a home run. Atlanta would get a shooter that can space the floor next to Trae Young, a second-round pick (and second-round pick swap), and would save money both this year and in the future.
Malik Beasley has a club option for the 2023-24 season that would pay him $17.5 million. After that, he is a free agent. Atlanta would save $2.5 million this season and would be off the hook for the final two years of Hunter’s deal, making it easier to extend Dejounte Murray.
It isn’t like Hunter has been tremendous for Atlanta so the Hawks aren’t really negotiating out of a place of leverage. Atlanta could absolutely talk itself into Beasley providing the same impact as Hunter next year. With the picks and financial flexibility, it then becomes great for Atlanta.
The Lakers would be buying into Hunter’s high ceiling. While he has not fully pieced it together in the NBA, he still has legitimate potential to be a really good two-way wing in the NBA. The Hawks’ Young-centric system isn’t really the best thing for a young player like Hunter whereas in LA, he could get dedicated offense ran for him and would get the chance to make a difference.
Hunter is still only 25 years old and if the Hawks are going to sell low on his potential to pinch some pennies then the Lakers should be buying in. This is the kind of move that can make the team better right away while also preparing for the future.