The Los Angeles Lakers are so injured right now that they are nearly limping into the playoffs. The defending NBA champions could be without LeBron James and Anthony Davis for at least a month due to injury. The Lakers brass is hopeful that the Lakers can make a deep playoff run when the team is fully healthy, but the Lakers still need to qualify for the playoffs to do that.
The Lakers will ultimately make the playoffs thanks to their start to the season. However, their seed could drastically change if the Lakers don’t win without their dynamic duo. With that said, the trade deadline is approaching and the Lakers should be in contention to land a big name. Here’s a potential trade that could help the Lakers get not only contend for a top seed in the Western Conference but also repeat as NBA champions.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Wesley Matthews, Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, Alfonzo McKinnie, 2027 First-Round Pick for DeMar DeRozan
For starters, let’s get obvious out of the way. Even with the great coaching of Gregg Popovich, the San Antonio Spurs are not going to win the NBA championship. In the past, Popovich has not liked making deals with the Lakers but he has to see the writing on the wall. The aging Spurs team is contending for a playoff berth, but have realized their core is not good enough to make it past the first round. LaMarcus Aldridge has already been permitted to seek a new team. While Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl are great future assets, the collective unit of Patty Mills and Rudy Gay is past their prime.
DeMar DeRozan is on an expiring contract, which makes him a prime rental for a team looking to win right now. The Lakers are 100% looking to win right now as LeBron just celebrated his 36th birthday. With the Spurs not looking like a championship contender anytime soon, it would be wise to gain as much as you can for DeRozan before he leaves for nothing. DeRozan could bring in a great haul as he is experiencing another solid season. He currently boasts averages of 20.3 points, 7.5 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and is shooting 49.1% from the field.
The Lakers have assets that could entice the Spurs. Murray, Poeltl, Derrick White, and Keldon Johnson are going to grow together to make a formidable unit one day. The Lakers can offer some veterans that could help fill out the bench.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would likely take over for White as the starting shooting guard. Caldwell-Pope can provide the outside shooting that the Spurs are consistently lacking. He is averaging the best shooting percentage from the three-point range this season with 40.3%. Matthews could provide another shooter to the team; he signed a one-year contract that the Spurs could void. The same would likely happen with Alfonzo McKinnie.
Alex Caruso would be a young, interesting option for the Spurs. Caruso is the perfect backup point guard and would be able to give Murray true rest time. Talen Horton-Tucker has increased his stock after scoring 18, 16, and 17 points in three of his last five games. The 20-year old would be perfect with the young Spurs team. The draft pick would be the cherry on top.
DeRozan makes the Lakers a scary team even after gutting their bench. The Lakers would keep Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell, two key pieces that can rotate. With LeBron, Schroder, and DeRozan on the floor, this would be one of the best passing teams in the league. With that said, this would mean the Lakers are going all-in on this season with hopes of contending one more year.
Schroder is also on an expiring contract, so that would mean that the Lakers would need to find a way to bring back Schroder and DeRozan. It would also mean that the Lakers would need to fill five roster spots with either player bought out or through the G-League. With Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers would be a seven-player deep rotation. With LeBron already hurt and older, and Davis hurt, would this be the right move to gut their depth for a four-time All-Star?
In the grand schemes of things, it would. Take Game 6 of last year’s NBA Finals when the Lakers defeated the Miami Heat. Outside of the starting lineup, the Lakers only played Morris, Caruso, and Rajon Rondo for 17 minutes or more. Experience has proven to win big on the grandest stage. Any professional sports league comes with teams making risks. This would be a risk that could net another championship for the storied franchise.