Zach LaVine is one of the best free agents who could be available this summer and, surprise, surprise, the Lakers are already reportedly sniffing around.
We’re still weeks away from the NBA offseason actually starting but conversations about free agency were apparently running rampant at the NBA Draft Combine this week, with so many decision-makers in the same rooms. And so it’s no surprise that Zach LaVine’s name came up a lot.
According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, LaVine’s non-Chicago suitors include at least four teams:
What’s certain is that league gossip throughout this week has linked LaVine to at least four teams — Lakers, Trail Blazers, Mavericks, Hawks — with almost certainly more to follow.
In each of those cases, some other moves would need to be worked out to create the max cap room it will take to sign LaVine. That could include a sign-and-trade with Chicago or sending some pieces out to a third party to clear cap space.
While Lakers fans may be excited to hear their team linked with LaVine they would appear to have, by far, the most complicated path to actually acquiring him.
How could the Lakers afford to sign Zach LaVine?
Signing LaVine would almost certainly mean clearing Russell Westbrook’s salary from their books. Finding a trade suitor for him would be an enormous challenge after how he struggles this year but finding one that could absorb his contract into cap space without sending back matching salaries would be even harder.
There’s no way the Bulls would want to take Westbrook back in a sign-and-trade. And while the Lakers supposedly have a standing offer from the Rockets to send Westbrook for John Wall, that puts them in largely the same situation — holding a prohibitively large contract that no one else wants.
The easiest path to making this happen is probably the most unlikely — a more full-scale reset towards youth that involves trading Anthony Davis, LeBron James or both. So, yeah, Zach LaVine may be fun to imagine on the Lakers but there are A LOT of dominos that would need to be set up and knocked down first.