With the Milwaukee Bucks winning the NBA championship on Tuesday night, the offseason has officially arrived and with it come draft, free agency, and trade rumors as teams begin laying the groundwork for what they hope will be a climb to a title in 2022.
The Los Angeles Lakers will once again be the favorite out West to reach the Finals, as they have the second-best title odds to the Nets in the eyes of Las Vegas at the moment, but there is no doubt that there’s lots of work to do this offseason to put the right pieces in place around LeBron James and Anthony Davis to win a second title in three years. The Lakers currently have just six players on the roster — seven if Montrezl Harrell picks up his player option — which means there’s a lot of roster spots to fill and not a lot of money to make that happen.
The biggest decision for L.A. is what to do at the point guard position, where they can either pay a hefty sum for Dennis Schröder or look to sign-and-trade possibilities to bring in some fresh faces. Rumors of the Lakers looking at trade options for Schröder and Kyle Kuzma have been percolating for weeks, and on Wednesday we got word that L.A. has its sights set on a superstar guard, per Marc Spears of The Undefeated.
Chris Paul is, unsurprisingly, atop their wish list, but it seems like a tall order to get a Western Conference rival like the Suns to agree to further clear the Lakers path to a title with a sign-and-trade as big as this — Paul will have to make a decision on his $44 million player option soon, but even if he opts out it seems most likely he returns to Phoenix. If Paul isn’t available, the Lakers would turn their attention to an L.A. native in Russell Westbrook, per Spears, putting their best (and really only) trade chips on the table.
According to sources, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have been on the hunt for veteran point guard, and Paul is on the list. There have also been talks about Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook being a potential candidate to move back home to Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade deal that could include free agent point guard Dennis Schroder, forward Kyle Kuzma and guard Talen Horton-Tucker, sources said.
It would be a fascinating trade, if nothing else, for both teams. The Lakers would get the star point guard they crave, but would certainly be further sacrificing floor spacing and shooting by deploying Westbrook/James/Davis in their top lineups. That would possible create a domino effect of forcing L.A. to focus heavily on shooting in filling out the roster, meaning Alex Caruso might become even more available for other contenders as an unrestricted free agent.
For Washington, it would bring them more depth, which is needed, but whether this would signal a win-now type move to Bradley Beal would have to be taken into consideration. It’s possible that it would, but anything the Wizards do this offseason has to be done with Beal’s preferences in mind and given how he is perpetually in trade rumors because of his talent on a middling team, anything that shrinks Washington’s ceiling even in the slightest could push him further towards the door.
At the moment, this is just a juicy rumor that doesn’t even seem to have legs beyond a basic discussion, but it’s clear the Lakers are intent on making some kind of substantial move to upgrade their backcourt and how they go about doing that is going to be quite interesting to watch.