The Los Angeles Lakers are not even 10% into the 2023-24 season and fans are already calling for there to be trades. Several members of the Lakers roster have been disappointing thus far, which isn’t the biggest surprise in the world.
While the roster is undoubtedly deep and talented, fans were hyping up each member of the roster a bit too much before the season. Those players have (predictably) not lived up to the high expectations and now, those same fans want to see players traded.
This is something we warned of before the season at Lake Show Life when we told fans that D’Angelo Russell’s contract all but confirmed he would be traded. Now, months later and only weeks into the regular season, fans are starting to hop on that bandwagon.
This has caused the NBA media to formulate potential Lakers trades that could get rid of some of the underperforming pieces and potentially bring in another star to compete with the likes of the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, and potentially, the Los Angeles Clippers.
While we see what Sam Quinn is getting at with this trade, in the long run, this would end up being a pretty bad move for the Lakers. Zach LaVine is a household name (and a Klutch client), but he is not someone the Lakers should hitch their wagon to long-term.
Trading for Zach LaVine would be Russell Westbrook all over again for the Lakers
Zach LaVine and Russell Westbrook are different players who approach the game differently, so it would not be the same exactly how it pans out. But in terms of trading capital and depth for a star who underwhelms, it would be virtually identical.
LaVine is the classic example of good stats on a bad team. If you just look at the box score you would think that LaVine is one of the best 25 players in the league. But nobody ever puts him in that echelon (or they shouldn’t). Why? Because his style of play does not translate to winning basketball.
It isn’t a coincidence that LaVine only has four playoff games in his nine-year NBA career. Say all you want about the quality of the teams he has been on but he has played with talented players. It should absolutely be a strike against someone who averages over 30 minutes a game when his teams never make the playoffs.
LaVine is a high-usage guy who does not make his team better. He has a career 27.5% usage rate with a 29.9% usage rate since joining the Bulls. That is not going to fit well next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, nor will his terrible play on the defensive end.
The most damning stat for LaVine is the Bulls’ on-off numbers last season. When LaVine was on the court the Bulls had a +0.4 net rating. When LaVine was off the floor the team had a +4.4 net rating. LaVine actively made the Bulls’ net rating four points worse last season when he was on the floor.
For comparison, a 4.0 net rating difference was essentially the difference between the seventh-ranked team in the league last season (New York Knicks, +3.0) and the 22nd-ranked team in the league (Utah Jazz, -0.9).
LaVine has two more years under contract after this season with a player option in 2026. His salary this season is just over $40 million. It is $43 million next year, $46 million the following year, and $48.9 million in the player option year.
That is an awful contract to latch onto and would essentially be pot-committing the Lakers to a star who isn’t really a star. It doesn’t matter that Alex Caruso is in this deal; it would be a disastrous one for the Lakers.