The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to make some big changes to their team this offseason. It just remains to be seen what they will be.
Los Angeles has long been seen as a potential destination for LeBron James in free agency. The Lakers have also been linked to Paul George and as a potential trade partner for the Spurs if they deal Kawhi Leonard.
Of course, there are reports that PG-13 is staying in Oklahoma City and that the Spurs don't want to deal Leonard at all, and especially not to LA. If LeBron doesn't come and the Lakers strike out on their three big targets, oh boy.
For now though, let's say the Lakers nail the offseason and land LeBron, PG and Kawhi. Could they potentially use Lonzo Ball as a trade piece to add a star point guard?
It is a possibility, as Kevin Pelton of ESPN writes. Pelton responded to a reader's email asking if Ball could potentially be used to acquire Kemba Walker.
It wouldn't happen until the trade deadline next season, Pelton explains, but he outlined a way it could play out.
Already, we've heard indications that the San Antonio Spurs aren't interested in Ball in a Leonard trade (and don't seem eager to deal with the Lakers, period, but more on that in a second), and a three-way trade with a team more bullish on Ball's prospects seems like a better option. There's also the awkwardness here of the Lakers dealing with their former GM Mitch Kupchak, though that shouldn't prevent a deal if they ultimately present the best offer for Walker.
As the Lakers, whether I'd make this deal would depend on what we saw from Ball next season. His shooting could be particularly problematic if the Lakers are able to add superstars via free agency, but Ball is also more than seven years younger than Walker, a far better defender and still on his rookie contract. Re-signing Walker and Leonard to max deals in the summer of 2019 in this hypothetical would push the Lakers' salary into the stratosphere, as they'd be paying them, James and George alone more than the projected luxury-tax line for 2019-20.
As Pelton does caution at the end, the cost of keeping Walker if they trade for him could be astronomical considering the Lakers would have three mega-stars already on the roster.
But Laker fans have been dreaming of this offseason for the last several seasons. They haven't been to the playoffs since 2013, so we can't blame them for having high hopes.