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Buha: Los Angeles Lakers interested in Brooklyn Nets Dorian Finney-Smith, Royce O’Neale

The trade deadline is six weeks away and most deals get done around then, but rumors have begun.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not much of a surprise, but Jovan Buha who covers the Los Angeles Lakers for The Athletic reported Wednesday night that L.A. is interested in the Nets two 30-year-old wings, Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale. Both defensive stalwarts and solid citizens, the two would fill needed slots on a roster that has title hopes.

Specifically, Buha reported:

“Those are two guys the Lakers have had interest in dating back to last offseason and even last trade deadline. I know that those are two guys they would have interest in bringing in.”

Indeed, there were reports at the February deadline that an unnamed team had offered the Nets two first round picks for DFS following his trade to Brooklyn as part of the package for Kyrie Irving. Brooklyn was similarly offered a single first for O’Neale at the deadline, also by an unnamed team. The 6’6” wing was acquired from the Utah Jazz for a first rounder in June of 2022.

Any trade for either, particularly one that includes draft assets coming back, would almost certainly require a multi-team deal. The Lakers have picks, both firsts and seconds, but a lot of them are constrained.

As one Nets fan noted, L.A. can’t trade a first until 2029, because the New Orleans Pelicans have an option to defer the Lakers’ 2024 pick — part of the Anthony Davis trade — until 2025. Moreover, since LA doesn’t own their 2027 first outright they can’t trade 2026 or 2028 either because of Stepien Rule. But they could theoretically offer swaps of those picks. The problem there is that the Lakers as a perennial contender is likely to have a lower pick than the Nets most years, making a swap moot. The Lakers don’t have second rounders in 2024, 2026 or 2028.

Another factor militating in favor of a multi-team deal is that the Nets would have to take salary back. Finney-Smith is owed $42.3 million over three years, including $13.4 million this season, while O’Neale is owed $9.5 million on an expiring deal this season. Brooklyn is currently $8.0 million under the luxury tax threshold but has multiple trade exceptions it could use in deals.

Sean Marks and co. have a lot of experience in doing multi-team deals, sending out Spencer Dinwiddie in a five-team deal in August 2021 and sending out Kevin Durant in a four-team arrangement at the deadline earlier this year.

DFS is averaging 10.5 points and 5.0 rebounds on 47/45/80 shooting splits. O’Neale is at 7.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting 39/39/63.