As December 15th becomes more distant in the rearview mirror and January 15th becomes more visible in the path ahead, it is only a matter of time before the annual trade wars begin. Last season yielded a lot of swaps, with a few big names like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving changing teams. Even with the change of scenery for those superstars, it was the Los Angeles Lakers who came away from the deadline as arguably the most improved team.
At last year's deadline, Rob Pelinka turned Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Thomas Bryant, Kendrick Nunn, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones, and a bevy of future draft picks into D'Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, Mo Bamba, Davon Reed and a few draft future draft picks in return. That was, in hindsight, a haul. The thing about that heist was that while many assumed the front office would move Russell Westbrook, no one expected the type of return they received.
Looking ahead to the aforementioned trade season, it is obvious through the whirlwind of rumors that the front office will once again be active prior to the deadline. Whether they pull the trigger on any moves remains to be seen, but areas of weakness such as shooting could certainly use some sprucing up. While all signs seem to indicate a Zach LaVine deal coming to fruition, the team's ensuing lack of cap flexibility that would follow his acquisition could push them away.
10 realistic Lakers trade packages:
D'Angelo Russell ($17.3 million) + Jalen Hood-Schifino ($3.7 million) + 2025 2nd Round Rick for Gary Trent Jr ($18.6 million) + Malachi Flynn ($3.9 million)
WHY THE LAKERS DO IT: GTJ may not be having his best overall season to date, but he is still hitting 36% of his 5.4 attempts from 3 per game. Not only that, but the '6'5" wing has a reputation for peskiness on the defensive end. He could be a great fit next to LeBron and AD on the offensive end while offering a feisty defensive option at the point of attack. Flynn is a throw-in for salary-matching purposes, but the purple and gold could do a lot worse than him as an end-of-bench option.
WHY THE RAPTORS DO IT: The Raptors should go ahead and rip the bandaid that comes with a rebuild. Scottie Barnes is a cornerstone and should be the only untouchable on the present roster. With Trent Jr playing on an expiring deal, they would be wise to look to obtain something for him as opposed to letting him walk for nothing in free agency.
Russell might not be in the long-term plans, but his shooting could be a nice complement next to Barnes for the interim. They get a second rounder as well, and the 20-year-old Hood-Schifino has a lot of promise as a big combo guard.
D'Angelo Russell ($17.3 million) + Jalen Hood-Schifino ($3.7 million) + 2025, 2027 2nd Round Picks for Malcom Brogdon ($22.5 million)
WHY THE LAKERS DO IT: Brogdon has been invaluable for the Blazers through the early season struggles of Scoot Henderson. Last year's 6th Man of the Year has once again been great, and his fit with the Lakers is undeniably snug.
WHY THE BLAZERS DO IT: Now that Henderson appears to be finding somewhat of a groove, the Blazers should be more motivated to part with Brogdon. It almost seemed inevitable that the veteran would hit the trade block from the moment he was acquired by Rip City, The goal would obviously be to obtain a 1st rounder for him, but two 2nd rounders plus the 17th pick in the 2023 draft (JHS) should make up for that.