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Lakers Rumors: Latest on Drew Gooden, Nick Young and More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2016

The Lakers aren't free of the rumors market just yet.
The Lakers aren't free of the rumors market just yet.David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers have reinvented themselves. 

Granted, it's worth mentioning the market helped dictate how the Lakers went about it. Hometown guy DeMar DeRozan re-upped with the Toronto Raptors and Kevin Durant came in the team's general direction, but not to it.

Alas, it's hard to complain about a young core surrounded by solid veteran talent, which is what the Lakers have constructed in the wake of Kobe Bryant's departure. The core might not win a title out of the gates, but it's one able to develop and—unlike Oklahoma City—the Lakers will have the ability to keep their own molded superstars.

For those unsatisfied, the Lakers don't sound done this summer, not if the rumors market has anything to say about it.

Nick Young's Fate 

One of the seemingly most obvious moves of the summer regards Nick Young.

Young is 31 years old and last year saw his role reduced to just 19.1 minutes per game. He posted an average of 7.3 points and shot just 33.9 percent from the field and 32.5 percent from deep.

Add in a cap hit of $5.4 million next year and a player option for the year after, according to Spotrac, and it's not hard to see why rumblings suggest the Lakers are ready to move on.

Take a note by the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan: "Veteran Nick Young has two more years on his contract totaling $11 million, but it will be a surprise if he’s not traded or waived before training camp."

The possible move has made more and more sense as of late. Luol Deng and Brandon Ingram mean fewer minutes for Young, and the former will act as the mentor for the latter. Young can't get out of the headlines and remains a distraction after nearly blowing off his hand on July 4.

And as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders points out, the Lakers can cut Young alongside other recent moves and clear up major space:

Eric Pincus @EricPincus

If Lakers stretch Nick Young, they can get up to $17.6 mil in cap room w/ Calderon

Jose Calderon, for those who missed it, got traded to the Lakers, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

No matter how the Lakers do it, doing away with a distraction who eats a large sampling of cap space isn't a bad idea, especially if he won't get on the floor anyway. Expect more traction on the situation soon. 

A Near Miss 

The Lakers wanted to bring on an international project.
The Lakers wanted to bring on an international project.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

The brass in the Lakers front office wanted to get their hands on Mindaugas Kuzminskas.

Who?

Kuzminskas is a 26-year-old Lithuanian forward who just inked a deal with the New York Knicks, according to SportandoESPN.com's Ian Begley confirmed the move.

Though 6'9" and 216 pounds, Kuzminskas looks like a strong developmental player who can stretch the floor well and fits the current small-ball trend of the Association in a nearly perfect manner.

He sounds like a player the Lakers would want, hence an unsurprising revelation from the New York Post's Marc Berman: 

Marc Berman @NYPost_Berman

Told Hawks and Lakers were the two clubs that nearly beat #Knicks out for Kuzminskas. Will get part of room exception.

This followed a detail from reporter David Pick:

David Pick @IAmDPick

Mindaugas Kuzminskas, I'm told, worked out for Lakers and Hawks. He'll soon decide on NBA or Euro future.

A strong defender and shooter, Kuzminskas would have fit well with the growing Lakers, and the cap situation wouldn't have hurt. If it's any consolation, the Knicks still have to buy him out because he signed a deal with a Turkish team, per Sportando.

Alas, those watching the organization can expect the front office to take a peek at similar players on the market. It shows the Lakers aren't done looking to upgrade spots or carve out a better cap situation just yet. 

Interest in Drew Gooden?

Drew Gooden would be a strong mentor for Julius Randle.
Drew Gooden would be a strong mentor for Julius Randle.David Zalubowski/Associated Press

With Brandon Bass still on the market, it's no secret the Lakers would like to add some quality depth behind Julius Randle. 

The more experience the better, hence the team's apparent interest in Drew Gooden, according to ESPN's Marc J. Spears:

Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpearsESPN

NBA free agent forward-center Drew Gooden has received inquiries from New York, Toronto, Lakers & Clippers, source said.

If the Lakers are lucky—and fast—this isn't another competition the team will lose.

Gooden, 34, spent the last three seasons with the Washington Wizards and never averaged more than 18 minutes per game. But he's a core depth piece all the same, a guy who averages 11.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per game for his career and is a respected veteran presence.

According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Washington had to decline his option for next year thanks to cap needs. This loss could be a major gain for the Lakers, though, and Pincus revealed where the team stands in the race:

Eric Pincus @EricPincus

Yes, Lakers would have waiver priority for Drew Gooden over all but Sixers - he's LA's if they want him for $3.5 mil https://t.co/nQp4ueRQ07

Like most of the Lakers' moves this summer, inking Gooden to a deal wouldn't be the sexiest thing around.

But also like the other moves, it's a strong one sure to pay dividends down the road as the organization continues to build around its young players. If Gooden can mentor Randle and help him along, this little potential move wouldn't look so small in hindsight.

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

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