The Los Angeles Lakers are scrambling to substantively change the roster ahead of the 2022-23 NBA season.
Last year’s inability to even qualify for the playoffs sent a clear signal to all involved that alterations had to be made, but thus far, actually making them has proven to be difficult.
The front office whiffed on getting Kyrie Irving. Russell Westbrook is still on the team. Malik Monk left for a divisional rival. The biggest addition L.A. has made is adding the Golden State Warriors 10th best player (and his girlfriend).
This week, an interesting new proposal emerged that could solve the Lakers’ Westbrook problem.
“I’d be willing to get involved if I were the Pistons,” an Eastern Conference executive told NBA insider Sean Deveney. “I would want that 2027 pick unprotected, and take back Russell Westbrook and send you all my veterans, all my junk.
“Right now, Detroit is taking the approach of just waiting, playing with the guys they got from the Knicks, and trading during the season. That team needs to tank some more, they need (Victor) Wembanyama, or at least they need to be in the mix.”
So who exactly would L.A. be getting in this swap?
“Send back Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel and (Kelly) Olynyk and Kemba (Walker),” the exec continued.
“The Lakers would be doing a 1-for-4 deal there, so they’d have to move guys around… You have some tradeable contracts, and you have some veterans you can use for depth. I’d consider it on both sides.”
The case for this trade if you’re L.A. is essentially two fold: it’s addition by subtraction in the sense that you dump Westbrook, and it provides you with a bit of depth.
Burks, for example, averaged 11.7 points per game last year on 40.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Over the last three years he has consistently shot above 40 percent from three. The Lakers need someone like that.
Last year was obviously a rough one for Olynyk on all fronts, but he has at times over the past few seasons shown glimpses of being a serviceable big man in the NBA.
Walker is shot at this point. There’s no two ways about it.
The real unlikely piece here is Noel. There is no way the Klutch-boosting Lakers bring on a guy who tried suing Rich Paul.
Last week a dark horse suitor emerged for Westbrook’s services. But if that doesn’t come to fruition, it wouldn’t be all that shocking to see the Pistons get a look as a possible partner.
The Utah Jazz are also continuing to hover in the background, although their most recent demand of the Lakers definitely raised some eyebrows.
So this is how Zach Wilson has been prepping for his Jets return. https://t.co/B0RZJ3hwhi
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 15, 2022
By all accounts, Los Angeles’ front office seems to understand that more moves need to be made.
Will they actually be able to make them, though?
An answer will emerge over the next few weeks.