Zach Lowe indicated on his ESPN podcast “The Lowe Post” (h/t Jacob Rhude of SB Nation) that a member of the Buss family or Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka could make a deal happen if they are willing to reconsider their past stance on the issue.
“The one I’ve said I would sleep over if I were a Buss or Mr. Pelinka is trading both picks to the Pacers for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner,” Lowe said. “My best intel right now is if the Lakers called Indiana right now and said ‘Both picks unprotected,’ the Pacers would do that deal, would probably do that deal.”
Pursuing Hield and Turner is something the Lakers have been doing for most of the offseason. However, reluctance by the Lakers to give up the aforementioned picks has caused the previous discussions to go nowhere.
Hield is a player that the Lakers have been pursuing for a while, including when he played with the Sacramento Kings. Despite those efforts, the Kings ended up sending him to the Pacers last February.
The Lakers reportedly could’ve gotten Hield and Turner last year, but instead made a blockbuster deal for Russell Westbrook. That deal offered the potential promise of a deep playoff run, but instead imploded with an embarrassing miss of the entire playoffs.
Turner has previously indicated that he’d be open to playing for the Lakers. Acquiring him would give the team a productive presence at center and provide the Lakers with one of the best front lines in the NBA.
Due to past trades, including a massive 2019 deal that brought Anthony Davis, the Lakers have few high draft picks to offer other teams. That explains the team’s past approach to holding onto its remaining picks.
Yet, if the Lakers are truly focused on trying to get back among the elite NBA teams, they don’t have many other options but to make such a deal. Their top-heavy payroll prevents them from adding prime talent through areas like free agency.
This deal would presumably involve the Pacers taking Westbrook in exchange, which would mean taking on his $47.1 million contract for this season. However, that contract would run out at the end of the 2022-23 season and give the rebuilding Pacers room with respect to their payroll.
Even though the Lakers have not indicated publicly that a change of heart was in the works, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t discussing that possibility behind the scenes.