At 19-30, the Los Angeles Lakers are going nowhere fast this season. Their focus is now developing youngsters and putting themselves in the best situation to target high-profile free agents next summer.
One of the names bandied about in a potential trade leading up to next week’s deadline is former first-round pick Julius Randle. The idea for president Magic Johnson and Co. would be to add Randle to a trade that enables the team to offload Luol Deng’s ridiculous contract. It would set them up to chase two elite-level free agents, LeBron James included.
According to this report from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers have actually been offered first-round picks for Randle and guard Jordan Clarkson.
“From what I understand, they’ve had offers for Randle and Clarkson. They’ve had offers where they could potentially get a first-round pick,” Shelburne said on ESPN’s The Lowe Post podcast.
As the NBA insider notes, any deal involving a first-round pick heading back to Los Angeles likely wouldn’t include the team being able to move Deng’s contract. The money changing hands would likely be neutral.
Acquiring one or two first-round picks likely wouldn’t amount to much for the Lakers when it comes to their off-season plans. They want to unload Deng’s contract even if it means parting with one of these young contributors.
One thing we’ve learned since Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka joined the Lakers’ front office last year is that the team have been active in trade talks. It’s also going to be big-time players during the summer. Whether that means the team makes a move between now and next week’s trade deadline remains to be seen. But there are solid offers on the table right now.