When they succeeded in acquiring LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers were expected to chase for another superstar to solidify their chance of returning to the NBA Finals in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season. Despite having the best basketball player on the planet, most people still don’t see the Lakers beating Western Conference powerhouse teams like the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven series.
This is one of the major reasons why the Lakers are always mentioned whenever an NBA superstar becomes available on the trade market. As of now, the most recent target for the Purple and Gold is Jimmy Butler of the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, though Butler is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, the Timberwolves are still expecting a good return.
In the hypothetical trade deal created by Zach Lowe of ESPN, the Lakers could explore a trade package centered on one of their young players, specifically Brandon Ingram, to acquire Jimmy Butler from the Timberwolves.
“The Lakers can’t trade any of their recently signed free agents until winter, meaning they’d have to trade most of their young guys — including both Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball — to get him now. Not happening. The winter could bring more intrigue, if Butler is still in Minnesota and the Lakers disappoint.”
The potential acquisition of Jimmy Butler will undeniably make the Lakers a more competitive team in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season. Aside from being a reliable scoring option next to LeBron James, Butler will also boost the Lakers’ performance on the defensive end of the floor. In 59 games he played with the Timberwolves last season, the 29-year-old small forward averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 2.0 steals on 47.4 percent shooting from the field and 35.0 percent from beyond the arc.
However, as of now, it remains a big question mark if the Lakers are willing to trade Brandon Ingram for Jimmy Butler, knowing that they already passed on including him in the trade package to acquire other NBA superstars like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka have already expressed their unwillingness to trade for a player that they could acquire in the free agency market without giving up valuable trade assets.
Also, trading Brandon Ingram for Jimmy Butler is a huge gamble for the Lakers since the All-Star forward could only be a one-year rental. When Butler demanded a trade from the Timberwolves, reports started to circulate that he’s not interested in teaming up with LeBron James in Los Angeles. For now, it will best for the Lakers to patiently wait for the summer of 2019 to chase their second superstar.
Brandon Ingram may still not be on the level of Jimmy Butler, but he has already shown a huge potential to become a superstar in the league. Playing alongside one of the greatest NBA players of all-times could give Ingram an extra motivation to work harder and improve his performance on both ends of the floor.