The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off one of the crazier NBA seasons in recent memory.
At one point L.A. was the second-worst team in the Western Conference and seemed destined to miss the playoffs by a wide margin.
Thanks to some clutch NBA Trade Deadline moves, however – the team wound up doing a complete 180. Not only did they end up qualifying for the postseason, but they made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
Now the big question is how the front office will improve this team going forward.
The answer could involve two stars that the Lakers have sought in various capacities over the past few years.
The first is Indiana Pacers sharpshooter, Buddy Hield.
“Part of the problem is that Malik Beasley, the best on-paper shooter whom they added, never lived up to the billing,” Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report noted recently.
“That’s why it would make sense to swap him and a future first-round pick for former Lakers trade target Buddy Hield, who is one of the NBA’s premier perimeter shooters.
“Hield, who might be too old for the rebuilding Pacers to keep, just had an absurd shooting season, netting a career-high 288 triples at a 42.5 percent clip. He’d have cheat-code potential playing alongside James and Davis, who could both feed him for spot-up shots and thrive in the open areas that his shooting would create.”
Hield has made his feelings on becoming a Laker pretty clear over the past year, so if L.A. decides to pull the trigger on this move, it would obviously be welcome by all sides.
Regardless of that, though – Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns is another name to watch. His contract for next season is only partially guaranteed, and there is a fair case to be made that he slows the Suns’ offense down too much at this juncture.
Meanwhile, the Lakers play a much slower type of game and have a huge weakness at point guard. Especially now that LeBron James has outwardly expressed his displeasure with D’Angelo Russell.
As noted by Sports Illustrated, if Phoenix does decide to move on from Paul, the Lakers are the favorites to attain him at 3/1 odds. From there it’s the Minnesota Timberwolves at 4/1, and the Los Angeles Clippers at 6/1.
According to Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report, if Russell were to agree to a sign-and-trade, the Lakers could send him and Beasley to the Suns for Paul.
“For the Suns, swapping Paul for Russell and Beasley makes them younger and gives [Devin] Booker one of his close friends to play with,” he wrote.
“For a team short on depth, Beasley gives Phoenix’s bench a veteran shooter who should thrive off kickouts from Kevin Durant and Devin Booker.”
The Lakers have a lot of decisions to make this summer. As things presently stand, they are one of three squads in contention for Kyle Kuzma’s services and one of three teams in the hunt for Jordan Clarkson.
Another reason to watch the Jacksonville Jaguars next season. https://t.co/DSyE5Jz54T
— Game 7 (@game7__) June 5, 2023
Whether they will ultimately settle on one of those guys or some combination of Hield and Paul remains to be seen.
What will the Lakers ultimately look like in 2023-24? One way or another, an answer will present itself over the next few months.