The Los Angeles Lakers are in an interesting position entering the offseason, as they are in desperate need of roster upgrades but with no real options to do so through the Draft (picking at No. 22) or in free agency (with just the mid-level at their disposal).
As such, trades are going to be the only real way to shake things up, and numerous reports have indicated that they have been very aggressive in making calls dangling their two best trade chips still on the roster in Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Woj said that “every team” in the league has gotten offered one or both), as well as exploring sign-and-trade opportunities for Dennis Schröder. The potential deal that has had the most smoke building in recent days on the Lakers trade front is with in-state rival the Kings for sharpshooter Buddy Hield.
There’s plenty of reasons for both sides to be interested in a Hield trade. His relationship with the Kings organization has been a bit rocky at times since re-signing in Sacramento as a restricted free agent, and it might be best for both parties to move on. For the Lakers, Hield fills a massive need as a shooter next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and with three years left on his deal, he wouldn’t just be a rental and could be part of a core — something they hoped Schröder would be but that remains to be seen. On Wednesday night, as the NBA Draft drew ever closer on Thursday, word emerged from The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor that the Lakers were pushing even harder for Hield, being willing to add their first round pick this year into a deal alongside two of three possible players.
Multiple reports have indicated that the Lakers are interested in a deal for Buddy, and with fewer than 24 hours until the 2021 draft, multiple league sources say Los Angeles has stepped up their efforts by adding the no. 22 pick to a deal that’d include Montrezl Harrell, and Kyle Kuzma or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
It should be noted that Harrell would have to sign-off on being included in such a deal, as he has a player option he could decline to make himself a free agent, but his market isn’t likely to get him much more than the mid-level deal he’s due next year and the Kings offer plenty of opportunity for him to get minutes and show his value again before hitting free agency.
If Harrell is on board, then it seems to be the Kuzma/KCP portion that could be a sticking point. L.A. would surely prefer to keep Caldwell-Pope, as he would move back into a more comfortable role behind Hield in the rotation and as a secondary shooter as opposed to last year when he was the primary focus of most teams perimeter defenses. How the Kings feel about Kuzma could be the difference in this deal getting done or not on Draft night, but it’s certainly one of the buzzier deals that seems to have a general known framework that we could see take shape by Thursday night.