NBA Trade Ideas from Latest Buzz: How to Move Nikola Mirotic, Tyreke Evans, More

Lakers Clear (Parts) of the Deck

Los Angeles Lakers Receive: SF/PF Mario Hezonja, PG/SG Shelvin Mack

Orlando Magic Receive: PG/SG Jordan Clarkson, C Ivica Zubac

So much for the Lakers sitting on their roster until the offseason. As Wojnarowski wrote:

“The Los Angeles Lakers, needing to shed salary for summer free agency, had been hopeful of waiting until the end of the season to move Jordan Clarkson—owed $26 million beyond this season—but there’s a mutual desire to find something sooner than later. The Lakers have made it clear that Clarkson, Julius Randle and Larry Nance are available.”

Moving Clarkson is more important than dealing the other two if Los Angeles remains bent on opening up two max slots for July. Nance makes peanuts next season ($2.3 million), and the team can renounce Randle’s $12.5 million restricted free-agent hold.

Turning Clarkson into Mario Hezonja and Shelvin Mack would fit within the Lakers’ master plan. Hezonja would give them a shooter to explore for the rest of this season who washes off the ledger at year’s end. Only $1 million of Mack’s $6 million salary for 2018-19 is guaranteed.

Part ways with both of them while ditching their other free agents, including Randle, and the Lakers would be looking at nearly $58 million in room against a $101 million salary cap. From there, if they stretch Luol Deng’s contract and fiddle around with various non-guarantees, they can dredge up more than $70 million in spending power—enough coin to pay, say, Paul George and LeBron James…and then some.

Bringing in Clarkson wouldn’t do much harm to the Orlando Magic’s rebuild. With Aaron Gordon due for a huge raise, they aren’t slated for serious cap space until Bismack Biyombo comes off the books after the 2019-20 season. And Clarkson would give them a 25-year-old combo guard to evaluate prior to Elfrid Payton’s own restricted free agency. 

Either the Magic soldier on with the former alone should the latter prove too costly, or they can try creating a nifty two-headed monster in the backcourt by rolling forward with both.