Lakers finalize three candidates to trade: Who are they?

The Los Angeles Lakers will be active on the trade market. Here are the three most likely candidates to be traded.

The Los Angeles Lakers are about to have a busy offseason. First, they need to hire a new head coach. Then, they have to make all the right moves to not only convince LeBron James to stay for another season but also take advantage of their small championship window.

Considering that they don’t have any significant cap space, the Lakers will have to rely on the trade market. They have been linked to superstars like Donovan Mitchell and Trae Young. They will use their three first-round picks to try to land a third star. While doing so, they are going to need to use some of their players for salary-matching purposes.

Here are the three likeliest Lakers to be traded.

Rui Hachimura

The 26-year-old combo forward signed a three-year, $51 million contract last offseason. He was fine all season, averaging 13.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 26.9 minutes per game in 68 appearances. Hachimura is certainly a helpful player but it’s hard to argue that he has been worth $17 million per year for the Lakers.

With their financial circumstances, the Lakers can’t afford to have too many negative-value contracts on their books. They have to nail all the salaries on their books around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. With that goal in mind, they can’t be paying a non-starting caliber forward $17 million a year.

Hachimura is the perfect salary to use in a trade. Plus, he is still relatively young and plays an important position. There will be teams interested in him. The best move the Lakers can make this offseason is to package Hachimura’s contract with some draft capital for a roster upgrade, even if it’s not for a superstar.

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Austin Reaves

Even though there is a perception that Austin Reaves failed in his role as a third banana next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the 25-year-old had a solid 2023-24 campaign. He played every single game and averaged 15.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game on solid 48.6 shooting from the field.

Then why is he on the trade block?

It is precisely because he had a good season that he is on the block. He is the best trade asset the Lakers have. If Los Angeles is going to trade for a star, Reaves almost certainly has to be part of the package.

Reaves has one of the most team-friendly contracts in the league. He is under team control for two more years with an average annual salary of $13.4 million. You simply can’t get a shooting guard before his prime that has the ballhandling, scoring, and shooting ability that Reaves has for that price tag.

Therefore, even though the Lakers have so far shied away from trading away Reaves, he is their best hope to land a Donovan Mitchell or a Trae Young.

Jalen Hood-Schifino

What a disappointment of a first-round pick Hood-Schifino was last year. The 17th-overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, the Indiana product failed to get any significant minutes as a rookie.

What hurts even more? The fact that the next three picks in the draft were Jaime Jaquez, Brandin Podziemski, and Cam Whitmore. Imagine if the Lakers had one of those three players not only as basketball players but also as trade chips.

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Instead, the Lakers have to get whatever they can for Hood-Schifino. The combo guard has some pick-and-roll and scoring ability off-the-dribble. The fact that he wasn’t able to play any role while the Lakers desperately needed more offensive firepower at times was disappointing.

However, he is only 20 years old. We have seen plenty of young players take important steps forward after not showing much as rookies. Someone will want to take a flyer on, so there should be teams who may treat him as a positive value. He will not net a player of significant value by himself but the Lakers will certainly try to use him as a sweetener in a potential deal.

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