The Los Angeles Lakers are a team on a mission with team president Magic Johnson keen on signing two big-name free agents at the end of the season. LeBron James, Paul George, Chris Paul, and DeMarcus Cousins are all rumored to be legitimate targets for the purple and gold, and would likely require max salaries to move to Hollywood.
Johnson and the Lakers are aware that in order to achieve their dream next summer, the team would have to open as much cap space as needed. Here is when Lakers trade rumors began swirling as early as this month.
Lakers Giving Up On Trading Luol Deng
Luol Deng has become the Lakers’ white elephant, racking up an average of $18 million in cap space every year. The 32-year-old small forward has played only one game and 13 minutes this season so far, and is only in the second year of his four-year, $72 million deal with the club.
There are rumors that the Lakers have placed him on the trade block since the beginning of the season. They even included Julius Randle and a future draft pick to the package should any team become interested in getting Deng.
However, a recent report by UPROXX said that the Lakers have “given up” on trying to trade Deng this season. The report cited ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski as the source of the rumor, saying that the Lakers do not want to add a future draft pick in any trade that Deng is potentially involved in.
Wojnarowski also mentioned that interested teams were asking for either Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma, but the Lakers are only willing to relinquish Randle.
Jordan Clarkson Could Be Traded At Season’s End
Lakers Nation reported that the club is “confident” they can trade super-sub Jordan Clarkson at the end of the season, also citing Wojnarowski.
According to the report, the Lakers’ cap space still does not have enough “room to sign two max-free agents” and they may have to part ways with Clarkson, Deng, and Randle to accomplish their goal.
Clarkson, 25, is in the second year of his four-year, $50 million contract. He is currently averaging 13.8 points, 3.0 assists, and 2.8 rebounds in 22.1 minutes coming off the bench, per night.
There are rumors that he could be a candidate for this season’s Sixth Man of the Year award, which is said to have increased his potential trade value.
Julius Randle is another name that has constantly been mentioned in the Lakers rumor mill this season.
The latest trade rumor about him is a potential deal with the Dallas Mavericks that involved his fellow former Kentucky standout, Nerlens Noel.
The Sporting News said that the Mavericks and Lakers had been discussing a trade involving the two big men, but negotiations were put on hold after Noel underwent surgery to repair a thumb injury. There is still no news whether the two teams will continue to pursue the potential deal anytime soon.
Noel is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, and the Lakers reportedly wanted to have that option in order to further free up more cap space.