NBA Trade Buzz: Los Angeles Lakers Could Get a Lot of Offers for Kyle Kuzma
The Los Angeles Lakers accomplished their goal of winning the 17th NBA championship in franchise history, but that does not mean that they will stand pat for next season. The Lakers are expected to make moves in the hopes of winning back-to-back titles. They are already being linked to several players, while some of the players on the current roster are reportedly drawing interests from other teams.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Kyle Kuzma is one of the players who are drawing a lot of attention from other teams. Kuzma was initially viewed as the potential "third star" behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the Lakers. However, Kuzma has failed to live up to expectations but excelled in a bench role. And if the Lakers decide to trade him, they will not have a hard time looking for a possible trade partner in the offseason.
"Kyle Kuzma adapted to a new role on these championship Lakers," Charania noted. "He served as a scorer off the bench and flashed signs of his continued upside. Kuzma will be eligible for his rookie extension this offseason, and could discuss a new deal with the Lakers. The 25-year-old also could bypass an extension and use next season to continue elevating his value prior to restricted free agency. And then there is the option of a trade suitor with several interested clubs."
Kuzma had a great year in 2019, as he averaged 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. But with the arrival of Davis, Kuzma was relegated to a bench role, which resulted to a dip in his production. In 61 regular-season games last season, the 25-year-old forward averaged 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. While he was big for the Lakers in some games, there were questions about his consistency.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Lakers will eventually decide to part ways with Kuzma this offseason. It can be remembered that he was mentioned in numerous rumors before the trade deadline last February. But according to Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll, trading Kuzma this offseason would make a lot of sense for the Lakers financially because he will become a restricted free agent after next season.
"Trading Kuzma makes sense for the Lakers for a few reasons -- the first and biggest is the financial complications with keeping Kuzma around beyond this season," Faigen said. "Whether the majority of Lakers fans think Kuzma is a gamer or not, he’s due for a sizable pay raise in 2021, when he’ll hit free agency. The Lakers will be able to match any offer for Kuzma if they keep him and make a small qualifying offer, but the problem with Kuzma won’t be the sum of his next contract, it will be his cap hold."
Keeping Kuzma could hurt their chances of surrounding Davis and James with quality role players in the long run. If they play their cards right, they could package Kuzma with other players or picks to acquire a third star in the offseason to improve their chances of depending their title next season.
Los Angeles Lakers Could Chase Chris Paul
If the Lakers decide to add a third star in the offseason, several executives believe that Los Angeles will look to trade for Oklahoma City Thunder veteran Chris Paul. The Lakers have long been mentioned as a possible destination for Paul because of his relationship with LeBron James.
According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, one Eastern Conference executive revealed that Paul wants to return to Los Angeles. Paul has spent six years in Los Angeles when he starred for the Clippers, and the executive said that returning the city through the Lakers would be a "dream come true" for the veteran point guard. The executive also added the James would love to play with his "Banana Boat" brother.
Paul could be a perfect third star for the Lakers because of his veteran leadership. However, one big hurdle to overcome is the huge $85.6 million contract of Paul in the next two seasons. According to Pincus, the Lakers would have to give up Kuzma, Danny Green, Quinn Cook, Avery Bradley, JaVale McGee, and the 28th pick in this year's draft to acquire Paul from the Thunder.
It would be a big haul for the Lakers to give up and it might even be bigger to convince the Thunder to trade Paul, considering the fact that they got a lot when they traded former stars Paul George and Russell Westbrook. However, the Eastern Conference executive believes that it is worth the risk for the Lakers because other contenders like the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers are expected to shore up their rosters as well.
"It seems like a risk, but sometimes you need to [execute big moves] to make yourself even better," the executive said of giving up a lot of assets to acquire Paul. "The Warriors will be better. The Clippers may be better. The Nuggets aren't going to get worse. Your competition is getting better. It worked for the Lakers, but I don't know if you have a normal regular season without the bubble if it does."
Aside from Paul, Pincus also said that the Lakers might make a run for Jerami Grant. Grant will be an unrestricted free agent and the Lakers got a first-hand view of what he can do, when the 26-year-old forward averaged 15.8 points and 3.6 rebounds for the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. James might be factor in recruiting him, while Davis could help veterans Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins to team up with him again.
"Grant can opt out of his final year at $9.3 million. The Lakers could have the means to pay him roughly $40 million over four years. That isn't close to what the Nuggets can pay to retain him, but James always seems to be recruiting," Pincus said. "James may be the mentor, but Davis as the protégé has shown he's learning to use his power, making sure that Rondo re-signed with the team and luring Cousins in free agency."
The Lakers also have a lot of decisions to make in terms of their own free agents. Anthony Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, and JaVale could all test the market if they do not exercise their player options. Kostas Antetokounmpo will be a restricted free agent, while Dion Waiters, Markieff Morris, Jared Dudley, and Dwight Howard will all become unrestricted free agents this offseason.
Los Angeles Lakers Could Finally Acquire Derrick Rose
The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly tried hard to trade for Derrick Rose before the deadline in February. The Lakers wanted to add Rose to give them additional firepower in offense, but the Lakers and the Detroit Pistons failed to strike a deal before the deadline. However, recent reports indicated that the two teams might revisit talks about a potential trade involving the former NBA Most Valuable Player.
According to Sean Deveney of Heavy, one general manager said that the Lakers and the Pistons were not too serious about striking a deal last February because both of them are reluctant to make moves back then. But after the Lakers won the title and after the Pistons failed to make the playoffs again, the general manager is convinced that there is a good chance that Rose will be in a purple and gold uniform next season.
"I don’t think the Lakers wanted to make a major move because they thought they could do something on the buyout market," the general manager said. "And I don’t think the Pistons wanted to make a major move because Derrick was happy there. You know, the Lakers wanted to be involved in case the Clippers got involved or someone else, the Bucks or the Nuggets, whoever. So there was interest but not too serious. Now, everything has shifted a little. Now, they’re both in a position to where a deal is much more likely now."
The Lakers reportedly offered Alex Caruso and a draft pick for Rose, but the Pistons did not bite. Detroit wanted Kyle Kuzma, but Deveney said that a deal is not set in stone even if the Lakers decided to include the young forward in the conversation. The Pistons reportedly wanted to increase the trade value of Rose, who actually had an excellent season, as he posted 18.1 points and 5.6 assists in 50 games last season.
The Lakers might find the need to aggressively pursue Rose because they might lose either Rajon Rondo or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, or even both in free agency. Both players played a big role for the Lakers in their title campaign this season, and Los Angeles might not be able to match the offers that they could get in the market.
The timing is also likely perfect for Los Angeles to acquire Rose because the Pistons are expected to enter a rebuilding phase. The Pistons traded former cornerstone Andre Drummond to the Cleveland Cavaliers before the trade deadline, and also secured buyouts with Reggie Jackson and Markieff Morris.