The Lakers lost their primary ball-handler for several weeks when LeBron James went down with an ankle sprain. The assumption at that point was that while the Lakers would seek out upgrades where possible, in all likelihood, the roster's core would remain intact upon his return. Well, with the trade deadline less than a day away, it appears as if the Lakers are sniffing around a blockbuster after all. On ESPN's Woj and Lowe Trade Deadline Special, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Lakers shouldn't be ruled out as a possible destination for Lowry.
"The Raptors, Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster, their front office, they're going to work with Kyle Lowry and his agent Mark Bartelstein on where he might like to play if they're going to do a deal," Wojnarowski stated. "But here's one team too, Zach, that don't rule out of this one between now and Thursday's trade deadline: The Lakers."
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Adding fuel to the fire, Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer added Wednesday that the Lakers are open to dealing veterans Dennis Schroder, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell. If the Raptors are headed towards a retooling period, they'd likely want either top Lakers youngster Talen Horton-Tucker or their lone tradable first-round pick (in 2027) in the deal. ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Tuesday that, at present, the Lakers are unwilling to include either in trade talks.
There might not be a better-fitting third banana for a team featuring James and Anthony Davis than Kyle Lowry. He is an elite defender and shooter that has played alongside star wings in the past and can function comfortably as a secondary ball-handler. The Lakers have always struggled when LeBron goes to the bench, but Lowry-led bench units have thrived in Toronto for practically his entire Raptors career. He has championship experience, and the added value of acquiring him is that it would prevent other interested parties, like the Clippers, 76ers and Heat, from doing so themselves.
For now, a deal should still be viewed as unlikely due to the immense complications that the salary cap presents. The Lakers are hard-capped at the apron. They have only $1.5 million in space beneath that line, and Lowry makes $30 million. That means that the Lakers would have to send out at least $28.5 million just to make a trade legal, and that's before factoring in roster size rules. Realistically, the Lakers would have to send out more money just to keep enough to fill out their roster with free agents afterward.
For hard cap purposes, Schroder's salary is $17.5 million (including incentives). Caldwell-Pope makes $12 million. The Lakers could combine those two with either Horton-Tucker or draft picks to get close to Lowry, but that would leave them a bit thin on the wing. They've reportedly explored Harrell trades as well, and could perhaps expand this deal to include a third team capable of giving them a perimeter piece back for Harrell. That would be especially enticing if the Lakers believe Andre Drummond will be available on the buyout market.
From a talent standpoint, such a scenario might appeal to the Lakers, but it would still be a somewhat drastic overhaul to make in the middle of a season. They might only have weeks with James and Davis healthy for that group to coalesce. It would be an enormous gamble, and due to the sheer number of moving parts involved, probably is not going to happen.
But the Lakers aren't blind. They see what's happening in Brooklyn right now, and they see the flaws that have limited their own offense all season long. They might believe that they need a major infusion of talent in order to reclaim their position as championship favorites. If that is the case? it would be hard to imagine them doing much better than Lowry, a legitimate third star who would give them a trio capable of rivaling Brooklyn's for their title defense.