Report: Chicago looms as team to watch as reports surface that Lakers want All-Star player for 1st-round picks

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t planning to use their first-round picks in the 2027 and 2029 NBA drafts in a trade unless they are getting an All-Star level player in return, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“We know what their assets are the ’27 and the ’29 unprotected first-round picks. They’re not going to use those unless they can get back essentially an All-Star level player,” said Wojnarowski. “… Like a lot of teams, I think the Lakers will watch Chicago. See if that is an organization that decides it might pivot before the trade deadline. But I think what’s more realistic is expiring contracts and maybe one of those picks.”

Wojnarowski mentioned the Chicago Bulls, who have Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan, as a team that the Lakers will be watching.

It makes sense that the Lakers don’t want to part ways with their two valuable picks unless they can significantly improve this season’s roster.

Los Angeles has played much better basketball as of late, winning eight of its last 11 games to move to 10-13 on the season. Star forward Anthony Davis has been dominant when he’s been in the lineup, and Russell Westbrook has converted nicely into a sixth-man role for the Lakers.

All-Star caliber players aren’t always available at the trade deadline or during a season, so it’s possible the Lakers would prefer to make a smaller upgrade to their roster and preserve their future picks.

With Westbrook playing well, the team doesn’t have to trade him to fix the roster since he’s been a valuable piece off the bench. The former MVP is averaging 14.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game this season while shooting 40.7 percent from the field.

Since the veteran guard is a free agent after this season, the Lakers are better off looking to upgrade their roster around Westbrook, Davis and LeBron James without taking on a salary that could hurt the team in the future.

A potential avenue that has been reported is a Patrick Beverley trade, as the defensive-minded guard has really struggled to produce for the Lakers on offense this season.

Packaging Beverley and guard Kendrick Nunn together could land the Lakers a better rotation piece this season.

As much as Lakers fans would love to see the team go all in to compete for a title, it appears the team is being patient in its approach to building this roster.

The Lakers have shown that they can compete (8-3 in their last 11 games) when James and Davis are healthy, so it doesn’t make sense to sacrifice the future of the franchise for just a minor upgrade.

It’s certainly possible the Lakers could reconsider if an All-Star does hit the trade market, but for now the team seems pretty set for the 2022-23 campaign.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.