NBA trade rumors continue to follow the Los Angeles Lakers. The team is preparing to go into a season without superstar Kobe Bryant for the first time in two decades, so a certain amount of change is inevitable. The latest from the rumor mill suggests that the Lakers and the Phoenix Suns may be pondering a deal that would involve two up-and-coming young stars.
According to Ecumenical News, Los Angeles and Phoenix could be considering a trade that would send shooting guard Devin Booker to the Lakers. The Suns would receive rookie forward Brandon Ingram as compensation for shipping the 6-foot-6 Booker to Los Angeles.
Both players are in their rookie contracts, so their salaries are close enough to each other that this is a trade proposal the NBA would approve. Some scenarios that come up in NBA trade rumors do not pass this test, but the Booker-for-Ingram trade is one that theoretically could happen under NBA trade and salary cap restrictions.
When looking at the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster, shooting guard is not really an area of need. The team plans to start volume scorer Lou Williams, and use Jordan Clarkson as his backup, per the Lakers website. That is a pretty strong one-two punch at shooting guard, so the addition of Booker would not make much sense for the Lakers. Booker is a high-quality young player, but fit is just as important as talent, and Los Angeles has already committed themselves to the duo of Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson to play alongside D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt.
This rumored proposal looks a bit better from the Phoenix Suns’ point of view, but arguably not enough to make this a trade general manager Ryan McDonough would agree to. First of all, the team is very high on Devin Booker, and it would probably require a team to overpay to make a deal for the sweet-shooting guard from the University of Kentucky. However, Brandon Ingram would fill a need at small forward for the Suns and would become a key component in the Phoenix lineup if this trade does indeed go through.
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While Ingram would be a terrific asset to the Suns, losing Booker would create a deficiency at the shooting guard spot. The team could consider moving Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight to that position, but neither is ideally suited to play shooting guard, and there is no one else on the roster who the team would feel comfortable with as a starter if Booker is dealt to the Lakers. An aging Leandro Barbosa would be the Suns’ best option, and that would leave the team no better off than if they just kept Devin Booker, and went with third-year man T.J. Warren at small forward.
Devin Booker was the 13th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, and he has more than lived up to that status after a rookie season in which he averaged 13.8 points per game, mostly as a starter. Booker is primarily an outside shooter, but he does have some playmaking and rebounding skills as well. Booker certainly showed enough during his first NBA season that the Suns expect him to continue his rise and become a future star in the NBA.
Brandon Ingram was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft out of Duke University. Ingram is 19-years-old and needs a lot of development and experience, but he is a great talent who has been compared to Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant. During his one season at Duke under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, Ingram posted per-game averages of 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds, while shooting a stellar 41 percent from three-point range.
Current NBA trade rumors are pointing toward a possible deal between two Western Conference foes — the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns. This proposed one-for-one swap of Devin Booker and Brandon Ingram does not appear to be in the Lakers’ best interest, and while a trade for Ingram and his vast potential might be tempting for the Suns, they would also be hesitant to pull the trigger if the price was prized guard Devin Booker. This rumored trade scenario is an interesting one, but it’s a deal that is unlikely to take place.
[Featured Image by Matt York/AP Images]