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Lakers Encouraged to Trade for Rival’s Star Role Player

Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) and forward LeBron James (23) sit on the bench during a time out during the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum

The Lakers are currently connected to several stars this offseason. However, one NBA executive is encouraging them to go for someone who is a perfect fit instead of a big name—and it involves trading with a well-known conference rival.

Lakers Encouraged to Trade for Rival’s Star Role Player


An Eastern Conference GM told Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports that LA should go after Nuggets wing Michael Porter Jr.

“If they want to get better, that is who they’d go after…They need a gunner who is not afraid to shoot and they’d be much better off if he can be a 3-4 like LeBron, if he is not a size mismatch. A knockdown shooter who creates space, that’s the first step to getting them back to contender status again.”

Porter Jr. was a thorn in the Lakers’ side in their matchups over the past couple of seasons. In their latest meeting in the first round, the 6’10” wing averaged 22.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists on 55% shooting from the field, 49% from three and 77% from the free-throw line. LeBron James even admitted that MPJ “kicked our ass” in the series:

Do you remember when we talked about having luck to win a championship? Denver is a case for that. There’s no way, coming out of high school, before the back surgery, that Michael Porter would even be in Denver. The guy was a projected No. 1 pick in the draft.

MPJ was no doubt a key part of the Nuggets’ success as they took the no. 2 seed and beat the Lakers in the playoffs again. However, he couldn’t replicate his heroics in the second round. In seven games against the Timberwolves, Porter Jr. put up just 10.7 points per game on .371/.325/.769 splits.

At this time, there is no indication that the Nuggets intend to break up the core that won them a championship last year. However, the potential second-apron penalties and key decisions by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Jackson could alter those plans.

Does Michael Porter Jr. to the Lakers Make Sense?

With both the Lakers and Nuggets facing challenging offseasons, a deal between these two is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. Deveney even wrote that the Lakers “would be happy to see Denver have to ship off Porter Jr. to a team in, say, the Eastern Conference.” If Denver ever considered moving their standout small forward, they’d probably prefer that plan as well.

However, if Rob Pelinka and Calvin Booth engaged in trade talks, it wouldn’t take much to match Porter’s $35.8 million salary for next season. Deveney posited that a deal around Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and Jalen Hood-Schifino could get the job done. The Lakers also have three first-rounders—the 17th pick this year and ones in 2029 and 2031—to use in any potential trade this summer. The Nuggets, meanwhile, currently own first-round picks in 2024, 2026, 2028 and 2030.

If the Lakers strike out on Donovan Mitchell, Dejounte Murray or Trae Young this offseason, a trade like this seems like a reasonable pivot. They would be adding a young, talented wing with adequate size and shooting (assuming he’d break the curse of Lakers who forget how to shoot when they join the team). And at 25 years old and under contract for three more years, Porter would be an ideal piece to join Anthony Davis in the post-LeBron era.

However, that trade would also give Denver two excellent starters and a young guard who can improve off the bench—with limited options to replace their production. The last thing the Lakers want to do is help the opponent who ended their season twice. The same holds true for the Nuggets, who want to remain title contenders.

The Last Word on Michael Porter Jr. and the Lakers

While Michael Porter Jr. seems like a great fit at first glance, his contract and potential asking price does not justify a trade between LA and Denver. The Nuggets would be better off keeping Porter or moving him to the Eastern Conference. The Lakers should target wings on cheaper contracts who would fit their team just as well.


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