Many fans expected the Los Angeles Laker to be one of the final teams remaining in the playoffs when July rolled around. Instead, the Lakers were bounced in the first round by the eventual Western Conference representative in the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers could not escape the injury bug and now face a slew of decisions to make.
One glaring hole the team will face is at point guard. Dennis Schroder is expected to face a hefty pay raise this summer and it’s unlikely the Lakers will be able to retain his services. Through free agency and the trade market, other deals could be made. Any of these 10 players will be on the radar when it comes to the team’s future at the position.
10. John Wall
Wall is expected to make over $44 million next season and has a cap hit of $47 million in 2022-2023. With that said, the Houston Rockets could be on the verge of trying to negotiate a buyout with the former All-Star. Since Wall suffered an ACL injury two years ago, he has not performed like the 20-point, 10-assist player he used to be. At this point, he is no more than a regular starting guard in the league.
If the Rockets can find a way to buy out Wall, that leaves the door open for Wall to contribute for a contender. In 40 games, Wall averaged 20.2 points, 6.9 assists, and 1.1 steals. Those numbers would be welcomed by the other veterans on the team.
9. Terry Rozier
Rozier would be a great fit in Los Angeles even though he is unlikely to make it to the Lakers. It would require trade and right now Rozier has one of the most team-friendly deals in the league. At $17 million, Rozier averaged 20.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists at the age of 27 years old. It would take a lot to pry Rozier from the hands of the Charlotte Hornets.
Not to mention, the Hornets are likely going to lose Devonte Graham to free agency. If that happens, the team is going to be in dire need of a guard, so why would they help the Lakers who are in the same boat?
8. Collin Sexton
Sexton could potentially be pried away from the Cleveland Cavaliers. There are talks that the Cavaliers are higher on Darius Garland. With Sexton due for an extension after this season, the Cavaliers could get a high premium in return for a player that averaged 24.3 points per game last season.
The Lakers would have to offer Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker, and their 2027 first-round pick. The best part about this deal would be that Sexton was drafted during the summer that LeBron left the Cavaliers. Sexton wanted to play with LeBron and told the media on draft night. Maybe, this could be his chance.
7. Kemba Walker
Walker was already dealt by the Boston Celtics to the Oklahoma City Thunder this summer. There is a growing belief that Walker is not going to play a single game for the Thunder though. Walker is owed $36 million this season and $37 million next season, but Walker is another candidate to negotiate a buyout with the team.
Despite injuries, Walker averaged 19.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.9 assists. He never found his groove while with the Celtics. With the Lakers, Walker wouldn’t need to be counted on for offense and he could be a true No. 3 option. Maybe, the pressure wouldn’t get to him this time.
6. Derrick Rose
Everyone wants to see this movie happen. At the trade deadline, fans across the country wanted to see the Pistons ship Rose to the Lakers and let him go on a championship run. It was nine years ago that Rose suffered his career-altering injury and it was this season that for the first time he looked like his old self.
While his high-flying days may be over, he showed with the Knicks that he can still score. Rose has Sixth Man of the Year potential with the Lakers and this lineup. Rose averaged 14.9 points last year and was the only piece of consistent offense for the Knicks in the playoffs. Fans would love to see Rose take a team-friendly deal to cheer him on to a championship.
5. Zach LaVine
Time to get into the heavy hitters. The Chicago Bulls have a lot of tough decisions to make. LaVine is due a contract extension and if he is not signed, the Bulls could risk losing him to free agency after this year. LaVine holds all the leverage right now with making his first All-Star appearance, the Bulls trade for Nikola Vucevic, and averaging over 27 points last season.
If the Bulls make a trade, the Lakers would have to give up Kuzma, Horton-Tucker, and another young asset, as well as their 2027 first-round pick. If this trade were to happen, it would give the Lakers one of the best inside-outside threats in the game.
4. Mike Conley Jr.
Conley is a free agent and the Lakers can’t offer him a lot of money, but they could do a deal with the Utah Jazz. Why on earth would the Jazz, the reigning No. 1 seed, help the Lakers? It’s simple. The Lakers can offer a player like Dennis Schroder and replenish the need at the position if Conley was expected to walk.
Conley is coming off the first All-Star appearance of his career. With the Jazz’s acceleration to the top, he knows that the team needs him, but it will cost them. If the Jazz wants to get something in return, this is the best-case scenario for the team.
3. Kyle Lowry
At the trade deadline, there were reports that the Raptors were close to dealing Lowry to the Lakers, but the Lakers didn’t want to part with Talen Horton-Tucker. Now, the team could look to sign Lowry if he were to take a mid-level deal. It’s unknown if Lowry would take less money to join a championship team, but one thing is for sure and that is not Lowry’s persona.
Lowry made a reputation for playing as a hard worker and with grit. That is why Lowry would be a perfect fit with the 36-year old LeBron James and this championship-ready Lakers team. Even at the age of 35, he had a successful season with 17.2 points and 7.3 assists. The trade should have happened months ago, so can the Lakers close out this time?
2. Russell Westbrook
This would be one of the most exciting trades because the combination of Westbrook, LeBron, and Anthony Davis would be true Hollywood. The Lakers could likely send a package that includes Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and two second-round picks. With Westbrook set to make north of $44 million next season, the Lakers would need to find a way to match salaries.
This trade would completely deplete the team of its depth, but we saw last year with the Lakers they can’t win without stars on the team. The Lakers had great depth with all these players, but once Davis went down with an injury it was game over. With two years left in a championship window, it’s do-or-die time anyways with the Lakers.
1. Damian Lillard
Want to bring the “Showtime Lakers” back to life? If the team completed this trade, it would be like a time machine sent us back to the 1980s. It would take a trade package of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Talen Horton-Tucker (sign-and-trade), Alex Caruso (sign-and-trade), Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and the 2027 First-Round Pick. It would be a lot of pieces in motion, but one that would make the Lakers unstoppable.
Lillard is in the prime of his career and is coming off a First-Team All-NBA season. At one point, we were talking about Lillard being in the MVP discussion. He scored the most clutch points in all the NBA last year. If the Lakers are going to get a point guard, then go get the best on the market.