Potential trade with Hawks fits updated Lakers vision for 2024-25 roster

The Los Angeles Lakers will look to improve via trade this offseason. Other options may arise, but the Lakers' search should ultimately lead them to Atlanta.
Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets
Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The worst-kept secret in the NBA is that the Los Angeles Lakers will be active on the trade market this offseason. General manager Rob Pelinka has gone as far as to state that he was conserving assets at the 2024 trade deadline to see what options would exist in the summer.

After the Lakers remained inactive at the 2024 NBA trade deadline, Pelinka bluntly stated that he isn't afraid to utilize future draft picks to build for the future. Per Jovan Buha of The Athletic:

“We’re not fearful of using future assets for now. It’s just gotta be using future assets for the now in the right way and the right deal.”

Based on how much the Lakers were willing to give up to acquire Anthony Davis, this should come as no surprise.

Recent reports indicate that the Lakers may not be going all-in on just one player, however, but instead a supporting cast that can provide depth and stability. This comes on the heels of the final four teams in the 2024 NBA Playoffs each benefiting from being aggressive in that same regard.

Specific to the 2024 NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics went all-in on Jrue Holiday, Kristaps Porzingis, and Derrick White, while the Dallas Mavericks added Daniel Gafford and PJ Washington. Each of those players has been instrumental in their team's success this season.

On a recent episode of the Mind The Game podcast co-hosted by JJ Redick and LeBron James, the Lakers superstar openly discussed how beneficial a balanced approach has proven to be:

As the Lakers near a crucial offseason, James' words are ringing consistent with the reported approach of the front office. Jovan Buha of The Athletic reports, for instance, that Los Angeles would prefer to keep Austin Reaves out of any potential trade discussions.

In addition to preserving some measure of the limited depth that the Lakers possess, Buha reported that Pelinka is looking to create depth rather than add another big name to the mix.

That's an intriguing proposition from a Lakers team that has a history of pursuing star power over depth. Instead of trying to load up on All-NBA level players, the franchise is instead looking to provide reliable support to the stars they have.

Thankfully for the Lakers, there's an option to accomplish both feats—and two more if Pelinka prefers a more conservative approach. All Pelinka has to do is convince the Atlanta Hawks to pull the trigger.

An ideal Hawks and Lakers trade would fit the vision

The Hawks and Lakers are in similar positions, albeit under different conditions. Both teams are led by an All-Star tandem, and both saw their seasons end earlier than expected, thus leading the respective front offices to pursue options on the trade market.

The key difference: While Los Angeles is looking to build around Anthony Davis and LeBron James, Atlanta is interested in splitting Dejounte Murray and Trae Young up.

Young has been the marquee trade target in many rumors, with Murray not far behind. It's easy to see why, as they're two of the most productive guards in the NBA. They're also players who would fit with Davis and James in different capacities.

While both players are intriguing, a potential trade for Murray would be the better option—both on and off the court.

Strictly looking at the logistics of a trade, Young is owed $43,031,940 for the 2024-25 season. As such, the Lakers would likely have to include Rui Hachimura and Reaves, both of whom are starters, to make the salaries match—let alone appease Atlanta as it considers trading its franchise player.

Thankfully for the Lakers, Murray is due just under $25.5 million per season, making a mutually beneficial trade more manageable if keeping Reaves is a goal.

How does Dejounte Murray fit with the Lakers?

Murray has been a Lakers target in the past. It was as recent as February of 2024 that Los Angeles attempted a three-team trade with the Hawks and Brooklyn Nets that would've sent D'Angelo Russell to Brooklyn and Murray to L.A.

Revisiting those discussions this offseason would be wise, as Murray is a true dream option for the Lakers—much as Holiday has proven to be for the Celtics.

Murray is a two-way guard who stands at 6'5" with a 6'10" wingspan. A former All-Star who has maintained his quality of play across multiple organizations, Murray has developed into a three-level scoring threat who's willing and able to create for others.

In 2023-24, Murray proved what he could do in a lead guard role by averaging 25.1 points, 9.1 assists, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 3.3 three-point field goals made in the 28 games for which Young was absent.

Bringing that level of two-way value to Los Angeles would mean giving the Lakers the perfect complement to not only Davis and James, but Reaves. The Lakers would have two guards who offer value on both ends of the floor, with both boasting 20-plus respective games of postseason experience.

If the Hawks don't deplete the Lakers of all of their potential trade assets, Hachimura and two draft picks could be the starting point for a fruitful discussion.

Murray and Young aren't the only intriguing Hawks

For as compelling as a trade for either Murray or Young would be, it's important to note that there are other Hawks who would cost less and bring positive value. They may not be stars of the same caliber, but they would fit the Lakers' pursuit of depth and balanced quality.

Now rumored to be available in potential trade discussions, center Clint Capela and small forward De'Andre Hunter should be on the Lakers' radar.

The appeal in potentially trading for either Capela or Hunter is that the opportunity cost would be far lower than a deal for Murray or Young. Don't confuse that for a lack of value, though, as Capela is a more than competent defender and arguably the best offensive rebounder in the NBA.

In 2023-24, Capela ranked No. 1 in the Association in offensive rebounds per game and No. 3 in offensive rebound percentage among players who appeared in at least 60 games.

In terms of how that would help Pelinka build a stronger team, the Lakers ranked dead last in both second-chance points and offensive rebounds. Suffice it to say, Capela would help fill a significant void.

Hunter, meanwhile, is coming off of a season in which he posted career-best marks of 15.6 points and 2.1 three-point field goals made on 38.6 percent shooting from distance. At 6'8" and 221 pounds with a massive 7'2" wingspan, he has the tools to be a great defender.

Hunter has struggled to stay healthy during his NBA career, however, which could result in the Lakers having leverage in potential trade discussions.

With Capela owed just under $22.3 million and Hunter due a hair less than $21.7 million, their contracts are accessible. Age and injury concerns may enable the Lakers to pursue a trade without losing Reaves or Hachimura, but instead packaging draft compensation with players such as Gabe Vincent and Jarred Vanderbilt.

There's still much to be considered, but with options aplenty in Atlanta, the Lakers must not overlook a potential trade partner whose options would ideally fit the updated vision for the 2024-25 roster.