The Los Angeles Lakers were extremely busy ahead of the 2023 NBA trade deadline, and they were able to vastly improve their roster by adding some key players.
Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley were two key additions made by Rob Pelinka and company last month. Vanderbilt and Beasley came to L.A. in the same package that brought D’Angelo Russell to the team.
As it turns out, Vanderbilt and Beasley, who began the season with the Utah Jazz, could have landed with the Phoenix Suns instead of the Lakers. A three-team trade idea that would have sent both players to the Suns was reportedly discussed.
“The [Atlanta] Hawks, [Houston] Rockets, and Suns had exploratory discussions on a three-team trade,” wrote Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “In that scenario, John Collins would’ve landed with the Rockets, Eric Gordon and K.J. Martin with the Suns, and [Jae] Crowder and Landry Shamet with the Hawks, but nothing of substance materialized, league sources told HoopsHype. Atlanta also tried to acquire Crowder in three-team trade talks with Utah and Phoenix centered around Collins going to Utah, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley going to Phoenix, and Crowder and Shamet going to Atlanta. Among the reasons this scenario didn’t materialize was a disagreement in draft pick compensation that would’ve gone to Utah in the talks.”
Although Vanderbilt and Beasley didn’t land with Phoenix, the Suns were arguably still the biggest winners of the 2023 trade deadline thanks to their deal for Kevin Durant.
The 13-time All-Star recently made his debut for Phoenix and looked great in the process. The Suns are massive threats to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals thanks to the Durant trade.
The Lakers are certainly glad that Vanderbilt and Beasley didn’t land with the Suns, as both players have been important pieces for L.A. since coming over.
Vanderbilt’s defense has stolen the show on multiple occasions, and to sweeten the deal, he’s averaging 7.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game with the Lakers.
Beasley, meanwhile, is in the midst of a cold stretch, but he’s had some big games with the Lakers and is shooting a respectable 34.9 percent from deep since joining the squad. He’s also averaging 12.9 points per game with L.A.
The Lakers became a very deep team at the trade deadline, and that’s going to be key over the remainder of the regular season. With LeBron James set to miss a significant amount of time due to injury, the squad is going to need some of its non-stars to step up in a big way.
Los Angeles is currently one game back of a play-in spot in the Western Conference.