Why the Lakers would want to make this trade is not in question: Dejounte Murray would be a great fit at the point in Los Angeles. He is a clear defensive upgrade, he's fantastic at playing downhill (a core to the Lakers' offense,) and he's clutch — two game-winners in the past weeks show what he can do.
But the Lakers face two questions. Is Murray enough of an upgrade over a suddenly hot D'Angelo Russell that it is worth giving up their 2029 first-round pick? If yes, can they find a third team that will take on Russell because the Hawks don't want him?
All that has stalled out talks between the Hawks and Lakers in recent weeks, with Marc Stein being the latest to report it in his newsletter Sunday (Jovan Buha has reported the same at The Athletic, and league sources echoed this to NBC Sports). Stein added it didn't sound like things would turn around:
Trade talks tend to be fluid this time of year and can be easily sparked up again, but one source briefed on the talks termed the idea of Murray landing with the Lakers before the deadline, as of this Sunday, as "unrealistic.”
Russell is making this decision harder for the Lakers. In his last five games, Russell has averaged 27.6 points and 6.8 assists a night, hitting 55.3% from 3 (up from 17.1 points a game for the season and shooting 42.9% from 3). It's fair for the Lakers' front office to ask, is Murray a first-round pick and a good young player better than Russell right now?
Even if the Lakers decide they need Murray and his defensive upgrade, they need to find a third team willing to take on Russell in a trade. The Hawks understandably are not interested — if Murray didn't fit next to Trae Young, why would Russell? The question is, who is the third team, and what sweeteners are needed to get them in the deal? Russell is making $17.3 million this season and has a player option for $18.7 million next season.
If the Lakers don't trade for Murray, expect a smaller move looking to add a little shooting or depth that can help now. The Lakers need to do something, but the big, bold move some fans want is not there to be made.