Report: Lakers adding 3rd star via trade appears ‘unlikely’

Jesse Cinquini
6 Min Read
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletic’s Jovan Buha has reported that it’s “unlikely” that the Los Angeles Lakers will be able to acquire a third star through the trade market to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis at this time.

“The Lakers landing a third star in a deal appears unlikely, barring an unforeseen one secretly becoming available,” Buha wrote. “Donovan Mitchell is reportedly likely to sign a contract extension with Cleveland, which would rule him out. Trae Young’s switch from Klutch Sports to CAA also makes a trade to the Lakers less likely, as The Athletic previously reported. Dejounte Murray is now in New Orleans and off the board. Perhaps Darius Garland becomes available, but he’s a clear step down from the Mitchell and Young tier of stars.

“Still, there are good options potentially out there. Wings such as Portland’s Jerami Grant, former Lakers player Kyle Kuzma and the [Brooklyn] Nets’ duo of Dorian Finney-Smith and Cam Johnson are expected to be available on the trade market, according to league sources. They aren’t the biggest needle-movers, but any of those four players would enhance the Lakers’ perimeter defense, frontcourt size and/or floor spacing. Grant, for his part, would check each of those boxes; he’s quietly shot 40-plus percent on 3s in back-to-back seasons in Portland.”

While Buha’s report paints a bleak picture regarding the Lakers’ chances of adding a top player via trade, Los Angeles was recently linked to three talented players that the team could target in free agency: Klay Thompson, Jonas Valanciunas and James Harden.

It’s worth noting that the Golden State Warriors reportedly could work with Thompson to organize a sign-and-trade sending him to a new team. If the Lakers were to acquire him that way, one could argue that they’d technically be trading for a third star. It’s unclear just how likely that currently is.

“[Rich] Paul said James would be willing to work with the Lakers on signing a deal below the maximum three-year, $162 million he is eligible for to open up the full $12.9 million mid-level exception to sign an ‘impact player,’” ESPN’s Dave McMenamin wrote.

“The type of player that James would be willing to make a financial sacrifice for would be an established veteran playmaker like James Harden or Klay Thompson, or an established big man to play alongside Anthony Davis — like Jonas Valančiūnas, sources told ESPN.

“If the Lakers are unable to entice a player of that ilk to come to L.A. for the MLE, James will seek the max, Paul told ESPN.

“James can only have so much patience in working with the Lakers on his next deal, however. Team USA’s training camp to prepare for this summer’s Paris Olympics begins in a week in Las Vegas. Paul told ESPN that he will look to complete a deal with the Lakers for James before Team USA camp opens up.”

Starting with Harden, he spent the 2023-24 campaign as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, and while he isn’t the dominant scorer these days that he was during his time with the Houston Rockets, he remains an effective offensive player.

In his maiden season with the Clippers, Harden averaged 16.6 points per contest while knocking down 38.1 percent of his shots from 3-point range. On top of that, he averaged 8.5 assists per contest, the fourth-most of any player in the NBA behind only Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic and Tyrese Haliburton.

Moving on to Valanciunas, he served as a force on the offensive interior for the New Orleans Pelicans during the last three seasons. Over the three-year span, he shot 58.8 percent from inside the 3-point line and also averaged 10.1 rebounds per contest, with 2.7 of those coming on the offensive glass.

But the Lithuanian is also a somewhat flawed defensive player, particularly when he is forced to guard pick-and-roll actions.

Last but not least, while Thompson is a bit long in the tooth at this juncture at 34 years old, he is one of the best outside shooters the game has ever seen. The veteran has buried the sixth-most 3-pointers of any player in league history with 2,481 to his name and has shot 41.3 percent from deep for his career.

It’s exciting to imagine how Thompson, Valanciunas or Harden would fare playing alongside James and Davis on the Lakers. Perhaps a player of their caliber is what the Lakers need to vault themselves back into title contention in the 2024-25 season.

Share This Article
Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.