Rumored available target could be connector piece Lakers have desperately needed

As the Los Angeles Lakers look for realistic trade and free agency targets, the Toronto Raptors could have an answer to their prayers.
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

Having two of the best players in the world on one roster is hardly a problem that teams around the NBA would pity. With minimal cap space and a roster that needs to be restructured, however, the Los Angeles Lakers are staring down the possibility of wasting what could be the last year of the Anthony Davis and LeBron James pairing.

Thankfully for Rob Pelinka and the Lakers, there may very well be a trade target who could help the team get one step closer to keeping its closing window open for just a little while longer.

The Toronto Raptors made waves in 2023-24 by trading franchise cornerstones Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. In return, the Raptors surrounded former Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes with talented incoming players such as RJ Barrett, Bruce Brown, and Immanuel Quickley.

According to Doug Smith of The Star, however, one of those three quality players may already be on their way out of Toronto.

"The sense from a handful of league sources is that the Raptors are likely to pick up the option, then turn around and deal [Bruce] Brown quickly rather than wait until the 2025 trade deadline."

Bruce Brown could be a piece the Lakers have been seeking

This news should be of great interest to the Lakers, as Brown is widely regarded as one of the top role players in the NBA.

Brown was the key player acquired when the Raptors sent Siakam, a two-time All-NBA honoree who helped the franchise win the 2019 NBA championship, to the Pacers. Important context, however, is that Toronto also received three first-round draft picks from Indiana.

Toronto has clearly prioritized its draft capital, which means Brown could be available with a $23 million expiring contract and the undeniable motivation of having something to prove.

2023-24 was an admittedly difficult season for Brown, who started 33 games for the Pacers before coming off of the bench in all but 11 of his 34 appearances for the Raptors. Amidst this sea of change, Brown was forced to battle a lingering knee injury that impacted his quality of play and availability.

In an interview with Lindsay Dunn of CityNews Toronto, Brown stated that he was effectively playing on one leg from December until the end of the season.

Despite this, Brown still pieced together an admirable season with averages of 10.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists on 47.8 percent shooting from the field.

As the Lakers consider their options this offseason, Brown should be someone who gets a serious look. Before a knee injury and mid-season trade stalled his momentum, the 27-year-old had earned rave reviews for his unique style of play and all-out intensity on the defensive end of the floor.

Standing at 6'4", Brown has defended just about every position on the court while earning a reputation as one of the best rebounding perimeter players in the NBA.

Furthermore, Brown played a crucial role for the 2022-23 NBA champion Denver Nuggets. He averaged 12.0 points in 26.5 minutes per game during Denver's postseason run, coming up clutch with 21 points in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

Brown also tallied 25 points in a pivotal Game 5 win against the Phoenix Suns in a wild second-round series that was tied at 2-2 at this time of his eruption.

With a proven track record as a postseason performer and a contract that would only be on the books for one season, Brown is an attractive trade target. The question, of course, will be whether or not the Lakers can afford to make a move of this nature.

In addition to having a glaring lack of cap space for free agency, the team could be forced to distribute draft capital in a trade of this nature. That would be a tough sell considering how limited the Lakers' assets are in that regard already.

As Pelinka searches for answers, however, Brown could be the connecting piece between Davis, James, and the rest of a roster that is in search of an identity.