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Los Angeles Lakers prefer to trade top picks for ‘legitimate third star’: 3 possible options

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Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

While the Los Angeles Lakers have a couple of draft assets that would likely prove very valuable in a wide variety of future trades, the team reportedly would prefer to part with them for a “legitimate third star.”

The Lakers wanting to swing a big trade to improve their chances in the NBA Playoffs is the worst-kept secret in the league. Throughout the summer and into the 2022-2023 season, rumors have run rampant about possible moves the team could or would like to make.

The most notable of those rumblings were the Los Angeles Lakers attempts to move Russell Westbrook. However, with the former league MVP in a career decline and being owed an absurd amount of money this season, he is pretty much untradable. Yet, the team does still have some trade chips other teams would be interested in. That being first-round picks in 2025, ’26, ’27, and ’28.

Related: 2-time All-Star reportedly wants trade to Los Angeles Lakers

While those picks have been linked to deals that could get them out from under Westbrook’s contract, on Friday, NBA insider Marc Stein added a new wrinkle to the Lakers trade rumors. “Some rival teams believe that the Lakers want to try to keep their two most coveted trade assets in case a currently unforeseen shot to trade for a legitimate third star — like Washington’s Bradley Beal — materializes suddenly.”

3 ‘legitimate stars’ the Los Angeles Lakers could trade for at the NBA trade deadline

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Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA trade deadline is on Feb. 9 and a lot could happen before then. Also, by then much of Westbrook’s deal would be paid off and some teams could be more willing to acquire him with the goal of freeing up space for the offseason. Increasing the Los Angeles Lakers chances of a big deal.

With that in mind, here are three All-Star talents that could be available at the NBA trade deadline.

Trae Young

While this is pie-in-the-sky thinking, the rumors have already started recently that Trae Young could be the next big star to ask for a trade. The chances of getting equal value in a deal are unlikely, so the Atlanta Hawks may be open to a swap that includes Westbrook and first-round picks, so they can attain draft assets and cap space. However, the Lakers will likely need a third team to get a deal done.

Bradley Beal

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Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Even with Bradley Beal healthy for most of the year, and Kyle Kuzma playing well, the Washington Wizards seem headed to another losing season. The team gave Beal a max extension in the summer, but another failed season could make them finally realize they need to begin an era without him sooner than later. The Lakers would be glad to help with that.

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard has long been the player that NBA observers have pointed to as the next superstar player to want out of their long-time home. However, the 32-year-old has never given the impression he wants an escape from Portland. Yet, if the organization endured another average season in 2022-2023, it could be time for them to start from scratch and move Lillard while his value is still high.