The Los Angeles Lakers are entering the 2019-20 NBA season with great expectations. While the organization failed to land Kawhi Leonard when the former Toronto Raptors forward opted to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Lakers made up for it by surrounding LeBron James and Anthony Davis with a number of less-heralded, yet nonetheless proven free-agent pickups, including Danny Green and DeMarcus Cousins. Those moves could further improve the Lakers’ chances of heading to next year’s NBA Finals, but as a recent report recommends, the team could give those Finals odds a bigger boost by trading for Orlando Magic forward Al-Farouq Aminu.
As explained by Bleacher Report‘s Zach Buckley on Tuesday, the deal that allowed the Lakers to acquire Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans last month already saw the organization “[cash] in their best trade chips.” While Kyle Kuzma is the only player remaining from last year’s young Lakers core, Buckley speculated that the incoming third-year forward “could be effectively off-limits” due to the fact he wasn’t included in the Davis trade. That, he suggested, could force Los Angeles to use veteran shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and 2019 second-round pick Talen Horton-Tucker as trade chips in an attempt to acquire Aminu from the Magic.
Although Aminu has averaged just 7.7 points and shot 42.3 percent from the field and 33.7 percent from three-point range in nine NBA seasons, per his Basketball-Reference player page, Bleacher Report‘s Buckley pointed out that the 28-year-old forward could help the Lakers’ championship aspirations the most through his contributions on defense.
“He can lock up at least three positions and handle switches on all five,” Buckley continued. “That versatility could be critical in helping L.A. manage some potentially massive closing groups. Get him out there with Davis, Kuzma, LeBron James and Danny Green, and the Lakers would be loaded with size and athleticism.”
As Aminu was signed by the Magic last month after four seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, the above trade could only be executed by mid-December or later, per SBNation‘s explanation of the NBA’s rules on trading newly signed free agents.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 7, 2019
Meanwhile, Buckley added that the hypothetical trade could also be beneficial to the Magic by giving them a more balanced lineup and freeing up their existing logjam at both forward positions. He wrote that Caldwell-Pope could either add depth to Orlando’s wing positions or be packaged to a contending team in exchange for a young prospect or a future draft pick.
Starting 23 out of 82 games for the Lakers, Caldwell-Pope averaged 11.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in the 2018-19 campaign, per Basketball-Reference. The former No. 8 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft was one of the multiple Lakers free agents who re-signed with the team last month in the aftermath of their failed attempt to sign Kawhi Leonard.
As for Horton-Tucker, Buckley described the 18-year-old former Iowa State small forward as a “raw and intriguing” prospect who could also help the Magic if such a trade is executed.