Rumors about the Los Angles Lakers possibly making a trade are already picking up steam at the very early stages of the 2023-24 NBA season.
With Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls a possible target, parameters of what a deal for the high-scoring guard might look like reportedly are taking shape, with D’Angelo Russell prominently mentioned.
“The most likely framework of a LaVine deal would center around Russell, who waived his implied no-trade clause over the offseason,” wrote Jovan Buha. “It’d also need to feature [Rui] Hachimura or [Gabe] Vincent as additional matching salary, another player and either the team’s 2029 or 2030 first-round pick – potentially with protections. (It cannot include both due to the restrictions of the Stepien rule). The Lakers would prefer to expand a theoretical trade to include [Alex] Caruso, in the scenario that he’s eventually made available.”
The fact that Russell, Hachimura and Vincent are being floated as possible trade chips just 12 games into this season is an interesting development. All three signed contracts with the Lakers this past offseason, yet might be on the move already.
Russell and Hachimura each re-signed as free agents this summer after being acquired by the Lakers via trade during the 2022-23 season. Vincent signed as a free agent after playing last season for the Miami Heat.
Buha wrote that the Lakers’ interest in LaVine is “real.” Earlier this month, an NBA executive said they could be looking for a reunion with his Bulls teammate Caruso after letting him leave as a free agent two years ago. Fellow Bulls teammate DeMar DeRozan also has been mentioned as a possible Lakers target.
Though there may be good reasons for the Lakers to pursue Caruso in particular, the Lakers possibly looking to make such a significant change before Thanksgiving is a clear reflection of their start to the 2023-24 campaign.
After a disappointing 125-110 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday that ended a three-game winning streak, the Lakers are at .500 with a 6-6 record.
Even at 38 years old and in his 21st NBA season, LeBron James continues to carry the team, and that may be part of the problem. The Lakers entered the season planning to more carefully manage the superstar’s workload, but that has not come to pass with them struggling for wins.
Russell, for his part, has been a strong contributor so far, ranking third on the team in scoring behind James and Anthony Davis.
That could have his trade value near its peak, which may be why the Lakers appear to be considering moving on from one of their top players in an effort to shake things up.