College Football Pick’em
Talking the business of sports
With the news that LeBron James signed a two-year, $97.1 million extension with the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this week, attention now shifts back to how this team is going to maximize those years. The Lakers haven’t done much this offseason to catapult them back into the conversation of championship contenders, but L.A.’s front office has reportedly vowed to LeBron that it will improve the roster, per Marc Stein.
“L.A. has nonetheless pledged to James that it will indeed continue to aggressively pursue upgrades. League sources say James, in fact, has been assured that the Lakers are willing to trade both of their available future first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 if a trade that costs them both picks can realistically position the Lakers to return to contender status.”
That’s a strong message to send if you’re the Lakers, and a necessary one to keep your franchise star happy. L.A. has previously been hesitant to include both of their future first-round picks in order to gain talent. Most recently, a deal that would’ve sent Russell Westbrook to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield was squashed because L.A. didn’t want to give up both future first-round picks. It would’ve solved two of the Lakers’ issues in one deal: unloading Westbrook after a dreadful season in L.A., and add shooting and frontcourt depth at a fair price. However, the Lakers didn’t think adding Turner and Hield would move the needle enough to be championship contenders, per Stein.
Instead, the Lakers are still focused on trying to nab Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets. The Lakers would part ways with both first round picks and Westbrook to land Irving, but the Nets turned down that trade offer, per Stein. Brooklyn has maintained that any returns it gets from potentially trading Kevin Durant and Irving needs to yield players that can keep them competitive right now, so it’s not surprising that the Nets don’t want to take on Westbrook and draft assets. That means the Lakers would likely need to include a third team in their deal if they’re serious about teaming up Irving and James again.
Irving would certainly improve the Lakers, and he’s a much better fit next to LeBron and Anthony Davis than Westbrook. There’s also the history of Irving and James winning a championship together in Cleveland, so there’s evidence that partnership can work. But offering the Nets a deal worthwhile is going to be the difficult part. There’s still plenty of time before the regular season starts for a deal to get done, and with the Lakers essentially promising LeBron that they will upgrade the roster it sounds as though L.A. plans to be more aggressive in its approach going forward.
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