Lakers would acquire final piece to championship puzzle in this mock trade
Obviously, NBA teams aren’t allowed to conduct any trades until the start of the offseason, but it’s pretty safe to say that teams are starting to prepare for any potential moves they would want to make come summertime.
The Los Angeles Lakers made some significant changes to their roster leading up to the trade deadline by getting rid of Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Damian Jones while bringing in Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Mo Bamba.
While it is no guarantee that all their new players will work out, the Lakers are currently much more balanced, young and more athletic than they were just one month ago, and certainly much more than they were last season.
But in order to become championship contenders, they may need one more piece, and general manager Rob Pelinka will surely look to acquire that final piece in July.
The trade market should be L.A.’s best bet to complete what it hopes will be a championship puzzle for next season, and this mock trade, which was suggested by James Piercey of NBA Analysis Network, could put the team over the top.
The mock trade
Via NBA Analysis Network:
“Brooklyn Nets Receive: G/F Malik Beasley, F Rui Hachimura, 2029 First-Round Pick (LAL), 2030 First-Round Pick (Swap – LAL)
“Los Angeles Lakers Receive: G/F Mikal Bridges”
On paper, this could be a dream for Lakers fans.
Perhaps the team’s one real remaining need is a shorter 3-and-D wing who could start at the 2 and comfortably move up to the 3 at times while playing effective defense on the NBA’s best shooting guards and swingmen.
Bridges seems to fit that definition to a T, as he was a major reason why the Phoenix Suns got to the NBA Finals in 2021 and finished with the league’s best record last season.
At 6-foot-6, he has a 7-foot-1 wingspan, and he is averaging 17.6 points a game on 46.8 percent overall shooting and 39.6 percent shooting from 3-point range. Better yet, he’s just 26 years of age, which would allow him to fit in with the Lakers’ apparent youth movement.
Why this trade would make sense
As it stands now, the Lakers have Vanderbilt to guard opposing 3s and 4s and Dennis Schroder to guard opposing ball-handling guards. But they don’t really have an above-average defender at the 2.
Bridges would allow them to possess a roster that has defenders and two-way players at just about every position. In addition, he would help address their need for 3-point shooting, as he is attempting 4.7 treys per game this year.
Right after the Suns traded him to the Brooklyn Nets in the Kevin Durant trade, the Nets reportedly had one team offer them four first-round picks for him, an offer they said no to.
He is under contract for three more years, so if Brooklyn executive Sean Marks wants to clear his books, perhaps he could be persuaded to move Bridges for the right price.
Surely, L.A. giving up another future first-round pick (they gave one up in the Westbrook trade) is risky and questionable, but if Bridges really would make it one of the favorites to win it all, perhaps it would be worth the risk, especially if there would be some lottery protection placed on that pick.
Beasley may not work out, as he is a very streaky shooter and has shot poorly in his first three games for the Lakers. In this scenario, they would pick up his team option for next season, then include him in the deal.
Hachimura will become a restricted free agent this summer, and although he is a legitimate scoring threat, his scoring has fallen since joining the Lakers, and at times he has been relegated to standing beyond the 3-point line, waiting for a pass from a teammate.