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Potential Los Angeles Lakers trade partner: Charlotte Hornets


With the second-worst record in the NBA, the Hornets are one of the few NBA teams that can’t even claim they have a chance of sneaking into a play-in game. And as a whole-hearted tanking team, the Hornets will likely attempt to sell any players who aren’t grounded and/or part of their long-term plans. And if the Lakers really don’t have an NBA scouting department, then Friday night in Los Angeles may have been the Hornets’ best chance to get the Lakers to strike a deal with them before the deadline. february.

If the two teams are indeed on the verge of a deal this season, there’s probably only one player the Hornets wouldn’t be at least willing to discuss the deal with. Other than LaMelo Ball, the Hornets should make everyone available at the right price.

Whether the Lakers can, should and will pay that price is another matter altogether. It’s worth remembering that Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak was once with the Lakers and may be less willing to give a discount to the franchise that showed him the door at the end of the 2017 season. If the two teams can find common ground, the Hornets have a handful of players who can

Gordon Hayward

If the Lakers are going to trade for Gordon Hayward, the deal will necessarily have to include Russell Westbrook, assuming LeBron James and Anthony Davis are out of the deal. Otherwise, the Lakers don’t have the composite salary to match the $60 million Hayward owes this season and next.

Also, based on the 32-year-old’s diminishing abilities to (1) stay down; and (2) making a difference when it is, acquiring Hayward is likely incongruous with the Lakers’ goals. Plus, owing Hayward $30 million next season would ruin any dreams of using cap space on a star in free agency next offseason, so acquiring Hayward makes little sense right now.

The only trade concept even slightly conceivable would be where the Lakers could walk away from Russell Westbrook’s expiring deal without using a draft pick in exchange for Hayward and at least another player or two to match salaries. . Still, based on the Lakers’ reluctance to make any move that limits their flexibility moving forward without making them immediate suitors, a trade for Hayward seems relatively inconceivable at this point.

terry rozier

Although Terry Rozier is probably one of the names most frequently linked to the Lakers since they began looking for answers to their Westbrook problem, he is in the first year of a four-year, $96 million extension. . At 28, Rozier probably won’t be much different from a player when his current contract expires, but he probably isn’t worth the price of admission, no matter how much you might believe in his game-making abilities. strokes.

As the league’s 57th-highest-paid player and 16th-highest-paid point guard, Rozier earns checks as a top starter on a contender, who is light years away from where the metrics impact generally place it above average. – appalling.

Kelly Oubre Jr.

Of Charlotte’s established veteran corps, Oubre probably makes the most sense for the Lakers. He’s a legit 3-and-D wing, and at 6’6″, he would match Juan Toscano-Anderson and Troy Brown Jr. as the tallest perimeter players in the Lakers not named LeBron, with at least four inches tall. more wingspan than either of these two.

Plus, he’s a class above in both strength, athleticism and shooting, which would help the Lakers play bigger without capsizing offensively. Although Oubre is shooting just 30.8% on three of 7.4 attempts per game this season – and according to the B-Ball Index, he’s taken tougher than the NBA’s 63% this season.

And perhaps most importantly, he has a deal for just $12 million, meaning the Lakers could easily match his salary without having to deal with the mess of wording a deal around Westbrook by trading Oubre. against Pat Bev.

If the Lakers can nab Oubre for anything other than a first-round pick, they should jump at the chance. But given the state of the Hornets’ roster, trading Oubre would cripple their already bad team. He’s taking a career-high 17.8 shots per game, and more than any other Hornet other than LaMelo and Rozier, while playing in all but one of the team’s games this season. If the Hornets are in real fire-selling mode, the Lakers should seize the opportunity to acquire a reliable two-way forward in Kelly Oubre Jr.

P. J. Washington

In the final season of his rookie contract, the Hornets will have a decision to make with PJ Washington this offseason. Either extend him the qualifying offer of just over $7 million, making him a restricted free agent, or see him potentially walk into unrestricted free agency.

Now Washington has played so many games in Oubre and started them all, and is scoring more than ever (15.0 points per game), but is doing so with the worst shooting efficiency of his career (34.2% from three; 49.6 effective points on the field goal percentage).

As a 6’7″ big ball, Washington doesn’t quite solve the Lakers’ need for wings, but could be useful as a simply playable forward, a type of player the Lakers sorely lack outside of. their big two.Still, whether Washington makes sense for the Lakers largely depends on Charlotte’s internal opinion of him and how they plan to handle his potential extension this offseason.

Jalen McDaniels

Finally, Jalen McDaniels is by far the least proven Hornet in the alleged sales section, but has an intriguing advantage for a relatively low price. Earning just under $2 million in the final year of his own rookie contract, the Lakers could easily match his salary with any of their own minimums.

However, his availability is – like in Washington – entirely tied to what Charlotte has planned for him. Still, unlike Washington, McDaniels will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, no matter what the Hornets do. So if the Hornets think he’ll work or aren’t interested in including him in their future, it may be worth extracting any value they have from their former second-round draft pick while they still can.

McDaniels, brother to Jaden (and cousin to Juwan Howard!), is tough around the edges but has the potential to become just the kind of complementary piece the Lakers need. He shoots well from wide on mostly open looks (36.4% this season, 36.1% career) and ranks as a decent perimeter defender.

He lacks the athletic pop of his former first-round sibling who thrives in one of The Best Perimeter Defenders in the NBA with a little discretion cut upside down, but he could be accessible on a bargain, and even that could be more than the Lakers can afford right now. If the Hornets traded McDaniels for a minimum and a second-rounder, he’s the kind of player who could provide the Lakers with a little more athleticism on the wing, even if he’s not the kind of player who will change dramatically. their fate.

If Charlotte makes everyone on their roster available, the Lakers should first target Oubre, inquire about Washington and McDaniels, and pass on Hayward and Rozier. And since literally every player could be in the game, there are a few other names worth checking out.

Cody Martin, like McDaniels, is a wing with an NBA brother, but is just now approaching the final part of his at least six-week absence after undergoing knee arthroscopy. As a solid shooter and defender, Martin could be as good or better than Oubre, but he’s in the first year of a four-year, $31 million deal. The Hornets will likely retain him at least this season, and the Lakers need healthy bodies.

The Hornets also have a handful of recent draft picks that burn little to no on their already bad team, but the Lakers don’t have minutes to burn on hypothetical NBA players like JT Thor, Kai Jones or James. Bouknight – if Charlotte would even want to unplug these guys so early in their careers.

It’s hard to know exactly what the Lakers are planning these days, or if there’s even a cohesive plan, but if they act before the deadline, expect talks with Charlotte to heat up involving a mixture of the above names.

Cooper is a lifelong Laker fan who also covered the Yankees at SB Nation’s Pinstripe Alley. No, he’s not a Cowboys fan either. You can follow him on Twitter at @cooperhalpern. All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise stated.



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