The Los Angeles Lakers have been the subject of NBA trade rumors ever since the retirement of Kobe Bryant signaled a new era for the franchise. Fox Sports recently reported that the Lakers are one of the top NBA teams who need to make a trade, and they singled out power forward Julius Randle as the player they feel needs to go in order for Los Angeles to progress to the next level.
According to iSports Times, the Lakers are interested in Orlando Magic power forward Serge Ibaka, and if they are not able to acquire him via trade, they will pursue him as a free agent during the summer of 2017. There is a trade scenario that is currently being debated online that includes both teams and both players mentioned in these separate reports.
The rumored proposal has the Los Angeles Lakers sending Julius Randle and small forward Luol Deng to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Serge Ibaka and small forward Jeff Green. Let’s see how the pieces would fit if this rumored trade became a reality.
Luol Deng (10 points, 10 rebounds) has his first double-double in purple and gold. pic.twitter.com/Och94JHICe— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 29, 2016
The Los Angeles Lakers would be giving up two quality starters in this rumored deal, but the players who would be coming in from Orlando primarily play those same positions, so for the most part, this two-for-two proposal offers direct substitution on the Lakers’ roster, as well as that of the Magic. Julius Randle would be replaced at power forward by Serge Ibaka in this hypothetical trade. Ibaka is a very good player who can contribute to a team in a variety of ways, but it is hard to imagine that he would be an upgrade over Randle — especially in the long-term.
Julius Randle has shown NBA All-Star potential, as he averaged a double-double (11.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game) last season at the age of 21. Randle has already come close to matching Serge Ibaka as a player, and Randle will continue to improve, where Ibaka is basically a finished product in this eighth year in the NBA. If there is any doubt about the desirability of a trade involving these two players, examining their salaries should close the case.
Serge Ibaka is in the final year of a contract that pays him $12.2 million annually, while Julius Randle is still on his very affordable rookie contract ($3.3 million per season). Ibaka will become a free agent after the 2016-17 campaign, so that would be a concern for any team that traded for the 6-foot-10 forward from the Republic of Congo. Everything considered, this is not an offer the Lakers would go for.
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The other parameter in this NBA trade rumor would have Luol Deng heading to the Magic Kingdom for Jeff Green. Deng is a solid veteran who Los Angeles brought in to provide some leadership and stability to their young core. Deng starts at small forward, but he is just keeping that spot warm for rookie Brandon Ingram, who should supplant Deng once he gains more NBA experience. Jeff Green is a very similar player to Deng in terms of productivity and the intangibles that he can offer as a respected veteran performer. Even the contracts of Deng and Green are similar, but there is one difference: Deng is signed for four years, while Green is in the last year of his deal with the Magic.
If Brandon Ingram comes along quickly and commands increased playing time, the Lakers may be stuck with Deng as a very expensive backup, so, in that one way, Jeff Green would provide more flexibility to the Lakers. If Ingram does begin to “blow up,” Los Angeles might look into a one-for-one swap of Luol Deng for Jeff Green, but that isn’t the NBA trade rumor that is being reported, so that possibility is just conjecture at this point.
Just for the record, this proposed deal wouldn’t be a home run for Orlando, either. Julius Randle would be a nice piece to add to the Magic lineup, but they would be thin at power forward in terms of depth, and acquiring Luol Deng would not make sense since the team seems committed to developing small forward Aaron Gordon as a starter and potential future star. If this trade offer were on the table, the likelihood is that the Orlando Magic would take a look, but eventually conclude that keeping Ibaka and Green would be the prudent course of action.
One important issue that hasn’t been touched upon thus far is whether this deal would be allowed by the NBA. Luol Deng and Jeff Green will not become trade-eligible until December 15 due to signing new contracts over the summer, so this transaction couldn’t take place until after that date. Additionally, the salary match that must be satisfied per NBA rules is a problem. Green and Ibaka make almost exactly $6 million more in combined salary than Randle and Deng. That is too large a disparity, so this rumored trade proposal would be declined by the accountants in the NBA league office.
Current NBA trade rumors are circulating that the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic may be contemplating a four-player deal. The Lakers would pass on this offer, although they might look to move Luol Deng at a later date if room needs to be made for Brandon Ingram to play big minutes.
The Magic might be tempted to make a move for a young talent like Julius Randle, but they too would bail on this deal since Luol Deng would be a poor fit on Orlando’s roster. This becomes a clean sweep of disinterest as the league would also give a thumbs-down to this NBA trade rumor — two of the players mentioned are ineligible, and the combined salaries don’t match closely enough. Some NBA trade rumors are feasible and worth some thought, but this one is “busted” regardless of which angle one approaches it from.
[Featured Image by Mark J. Terrill/AP Images]