The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off of a trip to the Western Conference finals and are built around a 38-year-old LeBron James, so it stands to reason that their roster-building priority is the present, not the future. As such, they are now considered likelier than not to trade the No. 17 overall pick in Thursday’s draft, according to The Athletic.
Some names linked to the Lakers, according to Buha? Washington Wizards big man Kristaps Porzingis, Brooklyn Nets wing Dorian Finney-Smith, Toronto Raptors sharpshooter Gary Trent Jr., and old targets Myles Turner and Buddy Hield of the Indiana Pacers. in a blockbuster trade with the Clippers and Wizards, but the other four players all make some degree of sense for the Lakers.
Porzingis and Turner both check the shooting big man box that the Lakers have been seeking as a front court partner for Anthony Davis. The Lakers haven’t had a true shooter next to Davis since Marc Gasol in 2021, and both Turner and Porzingis would not only help the Lakers offensively, but provide meaningful rim-protection on the other end of the floor. Porzingis would have been a tougher fit anyway if for no other reason than his hefty $36 million salary, but Turner, who is more affordable at around $21 million for next season, has been a longtime Lakers target as a two-way fit with Davis.
Trent and Hield fill the obvious hole the Lakers have when it comes to shooting. They have never been a high-volume 3-point shooting team since James and Davis arrived, but what has particularly been lacking has been movement shooting. Hield and Trent can both create space for themselves in ways that no recent Laker has been able to. Either would be enormous helps on offense. Finney-Smith is a more balanced option, a high-end defender who had shown significant improvement as a shooter before regressing last season.
Buha also mentioned other possibilities, such as a move up (with players like Kobe Bufkin and Dereck Lively in the mix), or a move down, with Brooklyn and Indiana mentioned as possible partners. The Lakers have a chance to put a championship-caliber team around James next season. It isn’t clear how much longer that window will remain open. They are seemingly going to do everything in their power to win with him while they can.