All eyes are on the Brooklyn Nets as they sort out what to do with Kevin Durant, who requested a trade on Thursday, and Kyrie Irving, who is reportedly trying to push his way to the Lakers via trade.
Theoretically, adding Kyrie and subtracting Russell Westbrook would solve some problems for the Lakers, but also create new ones. Alas, there's no perfect solution for the Lakers. This is the corner they've backed themselves into.
Plus, the Nets don't owe Kyrie nor Durant any favors. Brooklyn will make the best trade for their organization and shouldn't be beholden to either superstar's trade destination lists.
During a recent appearance on ESPN, NBA insider Dave McMenamin noted that if the Lakers are unable to cobble together a trade for Kyrie Irving, they could target Rockets guard Eric Gordon or Pacers guard Buddy Hield in order to get a top shelf shooter on the roster.
“If Kyrie doesn’t work out, they have plans in place, or plans they hope they’ll be able to execute, to achieve shooting on that roster in other directions. Whether that be a veteran like Buddy Hield, who they almost got on last year on draft day and you see Indiana just traded away Malcolm Brogdon and there could be more moves to come, or perhaps a guy like Eric Gordon in Houston."
Hield is a player the Lakers famously tried to acquire last summer before LeBron James and Anthony Davis pushed the franchise to trade for Russell Westbrook instead. Hield is a career 39.8% shooter from three and would be a seamless fit onto the Lakers current roster. He's currently under contract through 2023-2024 and is owed roughly $20.5M annually.
The 33-year-old Gordon has significant playoff experience as a member of the Houston Rockets and fully understands his on-court role. He thrived on isolation-heavy offenses that featured names like Chris Paul and James Harden. In his 14-year career, Gordon is averaging 16.4 PPG and has shot 37.1% from three.
The Rockets aren't going anywhere, for now, and, as was the case throughout the Russell Westbrook-for-John Wall saga, have been more than happy to explore trade scenarios with the Lakers, provided that a first-round pick is involved.
It's also important to note that although Gordon has two years left on his four-year, $52M deal, his salary for 2023-2024 isn't fully guaranteed. So if the Lakers do acquire him and it doesn't work out, he can still be used as a valuable trade chip for a future transaction.
Kyrie, Gordon, and Hield would all be upgrades for the Lakers, but whether or not Pelinka wants to keep wheeling and dealing is anybody's guess.