The newly-crowned Lakers were constructed around the dynamic duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They’re two of the top-10 players in the NBA today, and their greatness was further proven after winning it all with an older and somewhat lackluster supporting cast.
The role players alongside the pair were mostly veterans with just enough gas left in the tank to help the team get over the hump, but Los Angeles will surely look to surround James and Davis with more substantial teammates for next season’s title-run.
The organization has some cap space to play with, especially if it gets Luol Deng’s $5 million contract off the books, so the Lakers have a good chance at adding at least one other good player to the team next year.
Although the free agency is a route the franchise can take to bolster the roster, here are two potential trade packages L.A. can offer to acquire two stars and possibly become back-to-back champions.
Trade Package: Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Avery Bradley (player option), 2020 first-round pick for Zach LaVine
LaVine enjoyed a career season in 2019-2020, increasing his scoring average to 25.5 points per game on 38% shooting from behind the arc, according to basketball-reference, but the Bulls once again missed the playoffs. Chicago hired Billy Donovan as its new head coach, indicating the team is looking to turn things around for the future, but it’s still unclear if LaVine is part of the organization’s plans moving forward, especially since the team won’t be a contender next season and LaVine’s $19.5 million yearly contract expires after the 2021-2022 season.
If LaVine is indeed on the trading block, there’s arguably no better place for him to land than L.A. The Lakers were sometimes devoid of a perimeter scoring and shooting threat throughout the season, and although LaVine won’t help the team defensively, adding him would greatly improve the team’s offensive prowess and fast-break efficiency.
LaVine would get countless open triples and cuts to the basket alongside James and Davis, two players who consistently draw the attention of multiple defenders. The 25-year-old’s shot totals would certainly dip, but he’d become an impact third-option for a championship-caliber team, which is a title that historically ensures a player’s place in NBA history.
For the Bulls, this package gives the team much-needed backcourt depth and veteran leadership in addition to a player with high potential in Kuzma. The first-round pick is a late-rounder, but this year’s draft has substantial depth, so there will likely be some gems to be found.
The Lakers could also offer another future first-round pick if needed. This would hinder the franchise’s future since the team already gave up several future assets for Davis, but it’d be worth it to maximize the team’s championship-window as James approaches his twilight years.
Trade Package: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (player option), Alex Caruso, Quinn Cook for Derrick Rose
Rose has emerged as the favorite trade target for the Lakers this offseason, and there have even been reports that the team was interested in acquiring him before the 2020 trade deadline. It’s unfortunate that a deal wasn’t agreed upon since many fans would love to see the former MVP win a ring, but if he found his way to L.A. for next season, he may still achieve that goal.
Rose averaged 18.1 points and 5.6 assists per game on a career-high 49% field-goal percentage this year, but the Pistons were awful and don’t appear poised for a playoff-run any time soon. The 32-year-old point guard is also on an expiring $7.7 million contract for next season, which makes him arguably Detroit’s most tradeable asset.
Multiple contenders will surely bid with the Lakers for the rights to Rose, yet it’s unclear what Rose’s price tag is. Caldwell-Pope and Caruso are solid guards now equipped with championship experience, and Cook has even more title experience despite not playing much recently, so Detroit could value that factor over slightly more talented role players who haven’t accomplished anything.
But the Pistons surely want at least a second-round pick in addition to players for Rose, and the earliest second-rounder the Lakers can offer is in 2023. L.A. may be willing to include the pick and keep one of the previously-mentioned players, but it’s unlikely they’d include all three and the pick for an old, injury-prone slashing point guard.
Still, adding Rose to the Lakers’ core would excite many people around the league. It’s one of the biggest tragedies in recent NBA history that Rose’s prime was cut short, so seeing him contending for a title for the first time in several years would be a feel-good storyline heading into 2021.