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Old Foes: Lakers and Knicks fighting for same trade targets

All rumors point in the two diverging directions. Who will end where?

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Los Angeles Lakers v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Every trade deadline brings a plethora of rumors, but this year’s one is looking like a good old fight between the two biggest markets in the NBA landscape.

East Coast vs. West Coast. Heat vs. Cold. New York vs. Los Angeles.

Just a quick look at the latest rumor roundups here at Posting & Toasting, elsewhere at Silver Screen & Roll, or anywhere else you enjoy reading about what’s going on behind the scenes will inform you of these two behemoths trying to come up with enticing trade packages to land the same player(s) before the Feb. 8 deadline.

The Knicks are currently occupying the no. 5 seed in the East boasting a 25-17 record with a lot of home games yet to play having navigated a road-loaded schedule.

The Lakers are a much more mediocre 21-22 and the no. 10 team in the West, on the inside looking out of the play-in and just half a game above the cut-off to make it to the pre-post-season games.

And yet, both squads are looking for additions ahead of the All-Star break and they seem to have the same targets in their particular radars.

Just a few days ago, Fred Katz of The Athletic revealed the Knicks’ front office plans and objectives for the upcoming deadline, which can be summarized as follows:

  • Adding at least one instant-impact player, if possible under contract past this season
  • Focusing on a ball handler with scoring capabilities
  • Possibly looking for a backup center, depending on Mitchell Robinson’s recovery

Then, on Friday, Jovan Buha of The Athletic wrote a similar report from the Los Angeles Lakers point of view, highlighting the following priorities:

  • Backcourt player with athleticism and speed, preferably with defensive capabilities
  • A low-usage two-way wing
  • Another defensive-minded backup big man

Some of those things align (looking for a backcourt player; a center), and some don’t (wing reinforcements, although NYK already landed OG Aunoby in that vein).

Then, both authors mentioned some particular names, including the following popping up in both of their separate, independent stories:

Others appear in only one of the two, but if you have been checking the rumor mill for the past few days and weeks then you know there is at least some level of interest from both franchises. Players such as Zach LaVine, Malcolm Brogdon, Jerami Grant, and Alex Caruso find themselves among those in this group of common targets.

Adding wood to the fire, a few reports emerged on the verge of the weekend talking about Los Angeles and Atlanta inching closer to a trade for Dejounte Murray pending a third team facilitating the transaction by landing D’Angelo Russell, per Mike Scotto of HoopsHype.

“Trade talks with the Lakers and Hawks involving D’Angelo Russell, Jalen Hood-Schifino, and a 2029 Lakers first-round pick for Dejounte Murray would be contingent on Russell being flipped to a third team,” wrote Scotto.

According to Scotto, the Knicks are not prioritizing trading for Murray this season, which could mean they won’t be trading for the guard any time soon if the Lakers snatch him from the Hawks ahead of the deadline.

Regarding Bruce Brown, both the Lakers and the Knicks tried to sign the guard coming off the Nuggets championship run last summer but both failed, with BB prioritizing filling his bag and inking a hefty two-year (the second is a team option) deal with the Pacers.

It’s been reported that Brown’s favorite destination was Los Angeles had he not signed with Indiana, and it’s also been leaked that the Knicks front office had Brown as its no. 1 target in last July’s free agency ahead of Max Strus and Donte DiVinzenco.

Finally, Terry Rozier was name-dropped by Marc Stein in his latest newsletter as a trade target identified by New York, while rumors about an interest in Caruso have died down a bit of late but track back to mid-November when both franchises, Knicks and Lakers, showed some interest in the point guard as well as wings DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine.

Place your bets, P&Ters, and welcome back to the golden Big Market era of the NBA where it feels like we’re about to relive the extraordinary 70s.