Lakers Trade Rumors: Buzz Surrounding Andre Drummond, Talen Horton-Tucker, More

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 22, 2021

Lakers Trade Rumors: Buzz Surrounding Andre Drummond, Talen Horton-Tucker, More

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Lakers are hurting.


    Anthony Davis has yet to return from the calf strain that has kept him sidelined since Feb. 14, and LeBron James just joined him on the injury report with a high-ankle sprain. The need for reinforcements is real.

    They could be on the way soon. The NBA trade deadline will arrive at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, and the buyout market should take shape shortly thereafter.

    Let's get to the latest transaction talk around the Purple and Gold.

Andre Drummond on the Radar If He's Bought out

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    After replacing Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee with Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol over the offseason, the Lakers have lacked an above-the-rim element in their center rotation.

    Andre Drummond has the bounce to provide that. He's readily available too, having sat out since mid-February in preparation for a trade.

    But the Lakers are hoping the Cleveland Cavaliers won't find a Drummond deal to their liking. As much as L.A. might like the big man, there isn't a way to fit his $28.8 million salary on the payroll. The Lakers can only hope that's the case with Drummond's other suitors.

    If the Cavs can't broker a trade by Thursday afternoon, then a buyout immediately comes into play. That's where the Lakers can strike. The Lakers and Brooklyn Nets "will be potential destinations" if Drummond is bought out, per The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, as they offer the best blend of role and championship potential.

    Were the Lakers to add Drummond on the buyout market, they could emerge as late winners of the trade deadline.

Teams Tracking Talen Horton-Tucker

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Talen Horton-Tucker has been making waves all season, but a sink-or-swim moment is fast approaching for the sophomore scorer.

    With Davis and James out of the equation, L.A. is missing about 48 points and 35 shots. While it will take multiple players to fill the voids left by their absences, Horton-Tucker should be seeing a sizable increase in offensive chances.

    "It's a great growth opportunity," Lakers skipper Frank Vogel told reporters.

    The Lakers aren't the only ones eager to see how this plays out. Rival clubs are "monitoring Horton-Tucker's situation," per The Athletic's Shams Charania, as Horton-Tucker is headed to restricted free agency at season's end. The 20-year-old also looms as one of the team's top trade targets and might be the key to unlocking a major move should the front office deem one necessary.

    Horton-Tucker is their only rotation regular under the age of 25, so they wouldn't let him go for cheap. But without a first-round pick to trade or other prospects to sweeten the pot, he's probably the best L.A. can offer. And if it's hesitant about covering the costs of his free agency, getting something good for him now would be preferable to letting him walk for nothing.

Lakers Seeking Backcourt Boost

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Lakers needed more shot-creators even before James went down. They could use more distributors too, as James might be their only natural floor general. Finally, just about every modern team could stand to add shooting, and L.A. is no exception.

    With all of that in mind, it's no surprise to hear the Lakers "have been involved in some talks for a guard," as ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported on SportsCenter on Sunday.

    Extract what you will from that admittedly vague report.

    Does this mean they are in the market to make a not-insignificant splash to bring in someone who could step right into the rotation, like James' old running mate George Hill? Or are they confined to the clearance section and simply searching for emergency depth?

    With James set for a near-monthlong absence, the Lakers could be more aggressive than initially planned so as to not give up too much ground in the Western Conference standings. They don't have the budget to go big-game hunting, but adding a reliable role player would help hold things over without James and brighten the outlook upon his return.