“You can’t buy a house that’s not for sale.”
That was Laker GM Rob Pelinka’s assessment of why the Lakers remained quiet at the deadline — and he’s not wrong. These Lakers are not a middle-of-the-road move away from contending this season and that was all that was available at the trade deadline (if even that was available). That’s just hard to do with sands running through the hourglass on 39-year-old LeBron James‘ career. “Sometimes no move is better than an unwise move,” Pelinka said.
He can’t think like that this offseason — the Lakers plan to be aggressive, going after top stars this summer, reports Jovan Buha at The Athletic. The Lakers will have three first-round picks they can trade this offseason and plan to go big-game hunting.
Moving forward, the Lakers plan to use the three picks that they will have available this summer — 2031, 2029 and either 2024 or 2025, depending on which pick the New Orleans Pelicans choose to receive as part of their return for 2019’s Anthony Davis trade — to pursue a star via trade. Three potential targets are Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young and Kyrie Irving, according to team and league sources. The Athletic has previously reported on the franchise’s interest in Young and Irving.
There are questions surrounding all three of those stars and their potential availability.
Donovan Mitchell has one season remaining after this on his contract and, if he once again turns down an extension with the Cavaliers this summer, they have to strongly consider trading him rather than letting him go for nothing. However, if the red-hot Cavaliers (winners of 16-of-17) carry that into the playoffs and make a deep run, he very well could sign a max extension and stay, Cleveland can offer him more money than any other team. If he chooses not to sign, the Knicks are reportedly interested and have a boatload of first-round picks they can trade (eight) plus players that could interest the Cavaliers more than the Lakers offerings (plus Mitchell has long been linked to New York, where he was born, and as a pending free agent he will have leverage in where he gets traded).
Rumors of the Hawks potentially moving on from Trae Young have surfaced but that is very different from him actually being available. He would bring elite scoring and shotmaking— 27.1 points and 10.9 assists a game this season — but he is a disinterested and struggling defender who gets targeted on that end in playoff series. There are questions about Young working as the No. 1 on a title contender, but in a mix with LeBron and Anthony Davis that dynamic could be different.
While there has appeared to be interest from Irving and LeBron on a reunion, Irving is under contract with Dallas for next season (with a $49.2 million player option for 2025-26), and Dallas bolstered their frontcourt at the deadline looking to make a playoff push this season. Whether Dallas or Irving would be interested in parting ways is unclear and could hinge on what their postseason looks like.
There could be other surprises. Paul George can be a free agent, although the expectation in league circles is he will eventually sign an extension with the Clippers (just as Kawhi Leonard did). Other names could pop up.
Whether it’s one of these guys or someone else, the message is out that Pelinka and the Lakers plan to be aggressive this summer. It’s not a coincidence they want this message out there where Lakers nation can see it after a disappointing trade deadline.