Pelicans open door for Lakers to make blockbuster offseason trade

The Lakers could make a blockbuster trade this summer.
Los Angeles Lakers, Anthony Davis
Los Angeles Lakers, Anthony Davis / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers certainly need to change things up this offseason. They are guaranteed to be in the Play-In Tournament for the second straight year, but fans should not expect a deep playoff run this time. There have been too many coaching issues, roster questions, and on-court blunders to think the Lakers are going anywhere.

Their roster may change significantly this offseason. LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell have player options, which they could decline to become free agents. King James is expected to return. He turns 40 in December, and the Lakers must put more talent around him to give the GOAT one more chance at chasing a championship.

The New Orleans Pelicans are offering LA an assist if the latest rumblings are true. It could open the door for the Lakers to take a massive swing this summer.

Pelicans expected to decline Lakers 2024 1st round pick

LA gave New Orleans the right to take their 2024 or 2025 first-round selection in the Anthony Davis trade, and The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reports league executives think the Pelicans take the pick in 2025. That would leave the Lakers with a potential lottery selection in the 2024 NBA Draft if they falter in the Play-In Tournament.

Rob Pelinka and the team’s front office stood pat at the deadline in hopes this scenario would open up. The Lakers had just one first-round pick to trade before Feb. 8, but will have three this summer if New Orleans allows them to keep this year’s. LA could deal their 2024 first-rounder on or after the draft plus selections in 2029 and 2031.

Trading Three firsts opens the door for acquiring a third star. That did not work out with Russell Westbrook, but Donovan Mitchell and Trae Young are rumored to be available this summer. Both are outstanding shooters and floor spacers, who could make a massive impact on the Lakers. LA ranks 16th in offensive rating and 24th in 3-pointers made this season. Those numbers would improve drastically with Mitchell or Young in Hollywood.

This summer could also be the Lakers' last chance to take a massive swing around LeBron James. Their 2024 first-round pick is gone the moment they make a selection. Another tradeable pick does not open up until 2026 when King James is nearing his 42nd birthday. LeBron is still elite, but how many years does he have left? It is now or never situation for the Lakers, which adds immense pressure to this offseason.

The move makes sense for the Pelicans. The 2024 NBA Draft projects to be one of the weakest in recent years, but Cooper Flagg waits in 2025. New Orleans is also taking the chance that LeBron and Anthony Davis are not as healthy next season, and the Lakers fall further in the standings. The Pelicans could get a lottery selection in a deep draft next summer if they remain patient.

The Los Angeles Lakers will likely have their first-round draft pick this summer, and how they use it will determine the team’s fate during the end of the LeBron James era. No pressure.